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US Supreme Court blocks restrictions on in-home religious gatherings

US Supreme Court blocks restrictions on in-home religious gatherings

13.04.2021 | Zoe Gujral | U. Pittsburgh School of Law, US APRIL 12, 2021 05:12:50 PM | 50

The US Supreme Court on Friday granted a petition to put restrictions on in-home bible study and prayer meetings on hold.

The plaintiffs sought an injunction last December against a California restriction on the allowable size for indoor gatherings. The restrictions were instituted last year to slow the spread of COVID-19. After a judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of California found in favor of the government, the plaintiffs appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. As part of the appeal, the plaintiffs, who consist of religious and political groups and businesses, requested an emergency injunction. The Ninth Circuit denied the request, and the plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court. The court granted the emergency injunction Friday but limited it to religious groups.

In a 5-4 decision, the court’s conservative justices found that “California treats some comparable secular activities more favorably than at-home religious exercise, permitting hair salons, retail stores, personal care services … to bring together more than three households at a time.” According to the majority, as comparable religious and secular activities must receive equal treatment, California can not place different restrictions on in-home religious exercises and hair salons.

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