Newsom loses again as Ninth Circuit rules he lacked authority to shutter private schools

It’s official: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is having a really bad year.

Aside from an upcoming recall effort, wildfires raging across the state, sewage issues, an unbelievable homeless crisis, and much more, Breitbart reported this week that that embattled governor was just handed a major defeat by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit over his COVID-19 lockdowns on private schools. 

What happened?

Newsom, like many other blue-state governors, enacted swift and overbearingly harsh restrictions in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Newsom’s restrictions were particularly strict, and with regard to closing down schools, the governor apparently believed he had the authority to shutter both public and private schools.

After legal battles ensued, private schools scored a major victory against the governor, as a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit voted 2–1 that Newsom did not have the authority to close down private schools at the time.

Not surprisingly, parents of students at private schools had challenged the governor’s authority, arguing that while he obviously was able to make such decisions regarding public schools in the state, private schools were off-limits.

The judges ruled in favor of the parents, citing in their decision the rights afforded to parents who enroll their children in private schools.

“Because California’s ban on in-person schooling abridges a fundamental liberty of these five Plaintiffs that is protected by the Due Process Clause, that prohibition can be upheld only if it withstands strict scrutiny. Given the State closure order’s lack of narrow tailoring, we cannot say that, as a matter of law, it survives such scrutiny,” the decision read.

One judge dissents

Judge Andrew D. Hurwitz dissented on the ruling, arguing that recent progress in mitigating the pandemic has rendered the plaintiff’s challenge moot.

“The State has made substantial progress in battling the pandemic, largely because of the introduction of effective and widely available vaccines,” Hurwitz said. “Given that progress, the challenged orders no longer prevent any of Plaintiffs’ schools from providing in-person instruction.”

No matter, most schools are expected to return to in-person learning for the fall semester. However, a rapidly spreading delta variant of the virus, which has spiked case counts in some states, including California, could spark local health officials to pull the plug if the situation worsens.

“The nation’s most populous state is averaging close to 1,000 additional cases reported daily, an increase of about 17% in the last 14 days,” the Associated Press reported in early July, citing the delta variant as a major factor.

Now that parents have scored a victory against Newsom’s ridiculously strict lockdown protocols, along with church groups and other entities that fought back, the governor will undoubtedly have an exceedingly tough time reinstating many of those measures without guaranteed battles in court.

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