The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday ordered a lower court to revisit its ruling against Pasadena-based Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry, which filed a federal lawsuit against Gov. Gavin Newsom over COVID-19 restrictions.
Harvest Rock recently sought to block Newsom’s ban on indoor singing and chanting in churches, but was denied in its bid to overturn the order by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Supreme Court sent the case back to the appeals court on Thursday morning in an unsigned order. In a similar case in New York, the court ruled 5-4 on Nov. 25 in favor of houses of worship challenging New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s coronavirus-related restrictions.
“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court provides great relief for churches and places of worship,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, which represents the ministry. “The handwriting is now on the wall. The final days of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s `color-coded executive edicts’ banning worship are numbered and coming to an end. It is past time to end these unconstitutional restrictions on places of worship.”
The California Attorney General’s Office opposed the ministry’s efforts to challenge the health order.
The ministries contend Newsom’s “tyrannical” executive orders placing restrictions on places of worship are unconstitutional and discriminate against churches.
A representative for the governor could not immediately be reached for comment.
As a result of the dramatic rise in coronavirus cases throughout the state in November, Newsom recently halted reopening plans and put almost all of California back under a strict set of rules that prohibit indoor worship and force most indoor business to close or operate at a fraction of their capacity.
He could unveil new restrictions Thursday on economic and lifestyle activities that could last through the end of the holiday season.
Harvest Rock Church has multiple campuses, including in Pasadena, Los Angeles, Irvine and Corona. Harvest International Ministry has 162 member churches throughout the state.