The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a group of southern California churches calling for a lift on the size of its worship services.
In a 5-4 vote, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the four liberal justices to keep the state’s limits of 25 percent capacity or 100 people in place, The Hill reported.
The South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista, California, in the San Diego area wanted to allow 200 to 300 people to attend each service.
The church argued that limits on attendees violate constitutional religious freedom guarantees. They were asking for an emergency ruling in time for services on Sunday.
In a brief opinion, Roberts said that the limits “appear consistent” with the First Amendment and are similar to limits placed on secular businesses, like movie theaters and shopping malls.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, slammed Roberts’ argument.
Kavanaugh pointed out that churches are in a different category from secular businesses, and said that the limits violate the First Amendment.
Kavanaugh also noted that many secular businesses in the state were not subject to such limits, writing:
The basic constitutional problem is that comparable secular businesses are not subject to a 25% occupancy cap, including factories, offices, supermarkets, restaurants, retail stores, pharmacies, shopping malls, pet grooming shops, bookstores, florists, hair salons, and cannabis dispensaries.
So far, the U.S. Supreme Court has not overturned any governor’s lockdown orders, although state supreme courts have done so on several occasions.
But the High Court has already handed down several major rulings.
This week, the nation’s highest court delivered a 9-0 ruling to uphold appointments to Puerto Rico’s federally created financial oversight board.
Last week, the Supreme Court ruled to temporarily block House Democrats from obtaining ex-special counsel Robert Mueller’s secret grand jury testimony.
Before that, the Supreme Court issued an 8-1 decision in favor of Obamacare, ruling that the federal government must pay out $12 billion to insurers who had enrolled in the Affordable Care Act’s “risk corridor” program.
The SCOTUS delivered a 5-4 ruling last month permitting a “public charge” rule that allows the Trump administration to screen out green card applicants. The rule makes it more difficult for immigrants to receive legal status should they be expected to become dependent on government benefits.
The Supreme Court ruled last month that defendants in criminal trials can only be convicted by a unanimous jury, striking down a previous law that has been rejected by every state except one.
The SCOTUS recently ruled that the Trump administration can enforce the “remain in Mexico” policy.
Before that, the High Court ruled 5-4 in favor of tossing a lawsuit filed against a Texas border agent for shooting and killing a Mexican teenager.