The U.S. Supreme Court has handed freedom-loving Americans a gift that just keeps on giving.
The Washington Examiner reports that in the wake of a Supreme Court decision freeing a California church from state restrictions brought on by COVID-19, a “domino effect” is being seen across the country, as houses of worship continue to win similar lawsuits against what they’ve argued are violations of their parishioners’ constitutional rights.
Wins across the country
As the Examiner noted, the Supreme Court recently sided with the Harvest Rock Church in a case that challenged California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) coronavirus-related restrictions, arguing that they infringed on the constitutionally guaranteed right to freely exercise religious beliefs.
The nation’s highest court handed down its ruling back in February, granting temporary relief to Harvest Rock, blocking Newsom’s prohibition on indoor worship services, and starting a trend that the Examiner‘s Tori Richards said has reverberated across the country.
Richards reported Friday:
Pastor Ché Ahn, founder of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry, previously received threats of fines and prosecutions among his congregation for each day the church was open. As a result of a recent settlement with Newsom, those fines have been dropped, and California may no longer impose discriminatory restrictions upon houses of worship.
According to Richards, Newsom is also on the hook for some $1,350,000 in the church’s legal fees.
State-imposed fines are also being dropped against numerous other churches across the state of California, including Calvary Chapel in San Jose, which had accrued over $3 million in fees, Richards noted.
“The dominoes are falling”
In fact, the effects of the Harvest Rock case aren’t just being felt in the Golden State. A similar trend is being seen across the country, Richards said, with cases being won by houses of worship in states like Maine, Illinois, Virginia, and Kentucky.
In Illinois and Virginia, state leaders opted to drop the restrictions on religious gatherings before the cases could make their ways through the court system.
In Maine, meanwhile, the Supreme Court’s decision on Harvest Rock has given a church the confidence to file a request for an emergency injunction with the high court asking for it to block the state’s capacity cap for churches, which is currently set at 50 amid the pandemic.
A Kentucky church already has been granted a similar injunction by the Supreme Court, Richards notes.
As Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the Liberty Counsel, put it in a talk with the Examiner reporter: “The dominoes are falling, and churches are being freed from dictatorial and unconstitutional restrictions.”