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CA churches ask US Supreme Court to weigh in on state COVID restrictions

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) — Some California churches are asking the United States Supreme Court to weigh in on the state’s pandemic related restrictions for places of worship.

This comes as the high court recently blocked some restrictions in New York.

Some California religious leaders are hoping the United States Supreme Court will once again weigh in on the state’s restrictions on places of worship, but this time for the rules in the new, tiered economic reopening system.

Attorneys representing the South Bay United Pentecoastal Church in San Diego this week filed their request with the.. asking them to settle the circuit court split on the constitutional standard for reviewing free exercise challenges to pandemic restrictions.

Californias tiered economic reopening system prohibits in person worship in the purple tier, widespread tier — which currently encompasses 95% of the state’s population.

Religious leaders take issue with this, along with the 50% capacity limit in the state’s least restrictive economic tier and guidelines that discourage singing during service.

Religious leaders say Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration is violating religious freedom with their handling of the pandemic.

In a statement, Attorney Charles Limandri wrote, “while millions of Californians across the state in a wide range of industries have been able to resume working and shopping applying new mask-wearing and social distancing protocols, church services remain a disfavored activity in the eyes of Governor Newsom.”

Newsom’s administration has defended the steps taken amid the pandemic in an effort to protect public health.

The request was filed just hours before the court temporarily blocked New York’s restrictions on houses of worship in COVID-19 hotspots.

In May, California’s capacity restrictions under its old reopening strategy prevailed in a Supreme Court decision 5-4, when Ruth Bader Ginsburg was still on the court.

It’s unclear when or if the court will hear the latest request from California’s religious leaders.

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