The United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on May 28. Graeme Sloan/Sipa/AP
From CNN’s Ariane De Vogue
A 5-4 Supreme Court ruling has rejected a request from a California church to block limitations on the number of people who could attend religious services during the coronavirus pandemic.
Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberals on the bench, and wrote separately to explain his vote.
“Although California’s guidelines place restrictions on places of worship, those restrictions appear consistent with the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment,” Roberts wrote.
“Similar or more severe restrictions apply to comparable secular gatherings, including lectures, concerts, movie showings, spectator sports, and theatrical performances, where large groups of people gather in close proximity for extended periods of time.”
The thrust to reopen churches has become one of the latest debates in the coronavirus culture wars. As states across the country have been gradually reopening their cities, some churches have argued that they are being treated differently than other businesses or groups.
Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh would have granted the church’s request.
Kavanaugh, writing for Thomas and Gorsuch, said the church would suffer “irreparable harm from not being able to hold services on Pentecost Sunday in a way that comparable secular businesses and persons can conduct their activities.