For the second time in a week, the U.S. Supreme Court has sided with churches over state-imposed COVID-19 restrictions on indoor worship.
On Thursday, the justices threw out a lower court order that upheld California’s restrictions.
The challenge had been filed by the Pasadena-based Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministries over limiting attendance. They argued it was a violation of their First Amendment rights.
Last week, in a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court sided with churches and synagogues in New York’s COVID-19 hotspots who argued that capping attendance was unconstitutional.
The rulings come as the novel coronavirus is surging across the country, and states are dealing with record numbers of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Dr. Eric Christopher Cioe-Pena, the director of global health at Northwell Health in New York and an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Hofstra University, says he worries the rulings may create a “huge hurdle” in the public health effort to fight the virus.
“It’s very challenging. I recognize people’s right to gather for worship, but I don’t view the public health restrictions as a restriction on religious freedom,” he told Healthline.
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