California Supreme Court Rules That Calvary Chapel Doesn’t Have to Pay $217,000 in Covid Fines

SANTA CLARA COUNTY — In a victory for a San Jose church who openly flouted COVID rules at the height of the pandemic, the California Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a petition by Santa Clara County asking that Calvary Chapel pay more than a quarter million dollars in court fees.

“We feel really relieved,” said Mariah Gondeiro, the attorney representing Calvary Chapel.

As a result, the church won’t have to fork over $217,500, which was previously decided by a Sixth District Court of Appeal ruling issued over the summer. In that decision, the court reversed the fees stemming from court orders issued in December 2020 and February 2021 when Calvary Chapel openly defied the county’s public health orders. In their August ruling, the appellate court cited multiple U.S. Supreme Court decisions last year that favored religious freedoms over public health rules.

The state court’s decision reflects the wider reverberations of the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court on the country’s legal systems.

“I think we have a very religious-friendly Supreme Court,” said Gondeiro, who works for the Southern California-based Advocates For Faith & Freedom. “And we’re starting to see that trickle down across the country. When it comes to religious freedoms, they know where the Supreme Court stands.”

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Source: East Bay Times