The US Supreme Court vacated a District Court ruling in favour of California pandemic-related occupancy restrictions on churches on Thursday.
"The September 2 order of the United States District Court for the Central District of California is vacated, and the case is remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit with instructions to remand to the District Court for further consideration in light of Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo," the Supreme Court proclaimed.
The District Court ruled against Harvest Rock Church, upholding California's occupancy restrictions. The Supreme Court, however, is instructing the court to reconsider after ruling 5-4 in favour of a New York church which opposed New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's occupancy restrictions on churches, claiming such restrictions violate the First Amendment.
The successful challenge of New York's pandemic rules, brought forth jointly by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and the Jewish group Agudath Israel of America, argued that Governor Cuomo's policies are biased against religious institutions.
The California church cited the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, arguing that Governor Gavin Newsom's pandemic-related restriction orders treat churches differently from non-religious institutions, similar to the challenge in New York. They also cited a precedent ruling which proclaimed that the government may not "force or influence a person to go to or remain away from church against his will."