California Court Slaps Down Newsom Ban on Church Gatherings
By Mark Tapscott, The Epoch Times
December 11, 2020; Updated December 11, 2020
California Superior Court Judge Gregory Pulskamp delivered a stinging rebuke of Gov. Gavin Newsom late Thursday, ruling against “all COVID-19 restrictions that fail to treat houses of worship equal to the favored class” of businesses like Walmart and movie production houses.
The ruling came late Thursday in the case of Father Trevor Burfitt v Gavin Newsom, a suit brought by attorneys for the Thomas More Society on behalf of Father Trevor Burfitt and parishes in San Bernadino, Los Angeles, Kern and San Diego. Those parishes, as well as Protestant, Jewish, and other religious groups were barred from holding indoor gatherings of any kind.
The judge singled out Newsom’s recently issued “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” and “Regional Stay at Home Order” as failing to satisfy the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom of worship and practice because they aren’t applied equally and in the least restrictive manner required to achieve an essential public interest.
“In this case, the restrictions are not ‘neutral’ and of ‘general applicability’ because they assign entities into disparate classifications, which results in religious activities being treated less favorably than comparable secular activities,” Pelskamp wrote in his decision.