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California Gov. Gavin Newsom has been ordered to pay $1.35 million in legal fees after churches sued him for banning indoor worship during the pandemic.
A California District Court approved the settlement of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry’s lawsuit against Newsom, establishing the first state-wide permanent injunction in the country against COVID restrictions on churches and places of worship.
In February, the United States Supreme Court issued an injunction which stopped California’s extreme COVID-19 ban on indoor worship in churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship.
The Court ruled in two cases — South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom and Harvest Rock Church v. Newsom — both churches suing Newsom, challenging the state’s total ban on indoor worship services.
Beckett Law’s website states California’s ban on indoor worship services — the most extreme in the nation — targeted churches for closure while allowing non-essential retail stores such as Macy’s, as well as hair salons, nail salons, and Hollywood soundstages, to open to hundreds of customers.
In addition to the Court’s order, the Justices wrote several opinions.
Justice Gorsuch said: “California no longer asks its movie studios, malls, and manicurists to wait. As this crisis enters its second year—and hovers over a second Lent, a second Passover, and a second Ramadan — it is too late for the State to defend extreme measures with claims of temporary exigency, if it ever could. Drafting narrowly tailored regulations can be difficult. But if Hollywood may host a studio audience or film a singing competition while not a single soul may enter California’s churches, synagogues, and mosques, something has gone seriously awry.”
On May 14, a judge from the CA district court signed the final judgment that states discriminatory restrictions on worship and religious gatherings may no longer be applied to churches and places of worship and awarded the church $1.35 million in court costs and legal fees.
The federal judge’s final judgment in full on this can be read here.