…and the 9th Circuit Court messed it up again. This case (Ritesh Tandon, et al. v. Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, et al.) involves California Governor Gavin Newsom’s (D) restrictions on church gatherings against his more permissive approval of bar, salon, etc gatherings [emphasis added].
This is the fifth time the Court has summarily rejected the Ninth Circuit’s analysis of California’s COVID restrictions on religious exercise. See Harvest Rock Church v. Newsom, 592 U. S. ___ (2020); South Bay, 592 U. S. ___; Gish v. Newsom, 592 U. S. ___ (2021); Gateway City, 592 U. S. ___. It is unsurprising that such litigants are entitled to relief. California’s Blueprint System contains myriad exceptions and accommodations for comparable activities, thus requiring the application of strict scrutiny. And historically, strict scrutiny requires the State to further “interests of the highest order” by means “narrowly tailored in pursuit of those interests.” Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye,Inc. v. Hialeah, 508 U. S. 520, 546 (1993) (internal quotation marks omitted). That standard “is not watered down”; it “really means what it says.” Ibid. (quotation altered).
The Tandon group will be able to hold their religious gatherings unfettered by Newsom or his government while the basic case wends its way on through the 9th Circuit. And likely through the Supreme Court for final adjudication.
The ruling can be seen here.