Religious liberty

SCOTUS Blocks California's COVID-19 Ban on Indoor Religious Services

Chief Justice John Roberts says the policy reflects "insufficient appreciation or consideration of the interests at stake."

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The Supreme Court on Friday night issued an injunction against California's pandemic-inspired ban on indoor activities in houses of worship, suggesting that a Chula Vista church was likely to prevail in claiming that the rule violates the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom. Although "federal courts owe significant deference to politically accountable officials with the "'background, competence, and expertise to assess public health,'" Chief Justice John Roberts said in a concurring statement, "the State's present determination—that the maximum number of adherents who can safely worship in the most cavernous cathedral is zero—appears to reflect not expertise or discretion, but instead insufficient appreciation or consideration of the interests at stake."

California restricts social and economic activity based on county-level COVID-19 data. In Tier 1 counties, a category that currently includes most of the state, houses of worship were not allowed to hold indoor services at all, regardless of their capacity or the precautions they took. In Tier 2 counties, indoor religious gatherings are limited to 25 percent of capacity.

The Supreme Court's injunction, which remains in effect until the justices decide whether to review a decision against South Bay United Pentecostal Church by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, leaves in place the latter restriction, which the state is now applying in Tier 1 as well as Tier 2. The injunction also leaves undisturbed a ban on singing and chanting. But the order says the church will still have a chance to argue that "the State is not applying the percentage capacity limitations or the prohibition on singing and chanting in a generally applicable manner."

That point is crucial to the case, because the Court has held that the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause does not require religious exemptions from neutral, generally applicable laws. At the same time, the Court has said laws that discriminate against religious conduct are presumptively unconstitutional. The six justices who thought an injunction was appropriate (Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett) disagreed with the three dissenters (Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor) about whether California's ban on indoor religious gatherings in Tier 1 counties was neutral and generally applicable.

Gorsuch, in a statement joined by Thomas and Alito, said California is treating religious activities more harshly than secular activities that pose similar risks of virus transmission. "Since the arrival of COVID–19, California has openly imposed more stringent regulations on religious institutions than on many businesses," he writes. "At 'Tier 1,' applicable today in most of the State, California forbids any kind of indoor worship. Meanwhile, the State allows most retail operations to proceed indoors with 25% occupancy, and other businesses to operate at 50% occupancy or more. Apparently, California is the only State in the country that has gone so far as
to ban all indoor religious services."

Gorsuch notes that California said this distinction was justified because religious services "involve (1) large numbers of people mixing from different households; (2) in close physical proximity; (3) for extended periods; (4) with singing." While "no one before us disputes that factors like these may increase the risk of transmitting COVID–19," he says, the state imposed looser rules on secular activities that feature the same characteristics.

While California prohibited even small groups or solitary worshippers (going to confession, for example) inside churches, Gorsuch says, "scores might pack into train stations or wait in long checkout lines in the businesses the State allows to remain open." The state never explained "why the less restrictive option of limiting the number of people who may gather at one time is insufficient for houses of worship, even though it has found that answer adequate for so many stores and businesses."

Gorsuch also notes that "California is not as concerned with the close physical proximity of hairstylists or manicurists to their customers, whom they touch and remain near for extended periods." While California argued that outdoor religious services were an adequate substitute given the state's mild climate, he says, it imposed no such requirement on salons or many other businesses. It never explained "why the narrower options it thinks adequate in many secular settings—such as social distancing requirements, masks, cleaning, plexiglass barriers, and the like—cannot suffice here." Those measures, Gorsuch notes, "are in routine use in religious services across the country today."

Although California says allowing people to gather for extended periods of time in houses of worship poses an unacceptable risk, Gorsuch says, the state "does not limit its citizens to running in and out of other establishments; no one is barred from lingering in shopping malls, salons, or bus terminals." The state has not explained "why more narrowly tailored options, like a reasonable limit on the length of indoor religious gatherings, would fail to meet its concerns."

Gorsuch perceives a double standard even in the ban on singing and chanting, which does not apply to "California's powerful entertainment industry," a policy he likens to Nevada's special treatment of casinos. "Even if a full congregation singing hymns is too risky, California does not explain why even a single masked cantor cannot lead worship behind a mask and a plexiglass shield," Gorsuch writes. "Or why even a lone muezzin may not sing the call to prayer from a remote location inside a mosque as worshippers file in." If the COVID-19 testing used by the entertainment industry makes singing an acceptable risk, Gorsuch wonders, why couldn't a similar safeguard be employed for limited singing and chanting in houses of worship?

Barrett, in a statement joined by Kavanaugh, questions Gorsuch's suggestion that the singing ban should have been enjoined. "The applicants bore the burden of establishing their entitlement to relief from the singing ban," she writes. "In my view, they did not carry that burden—at least not on this record. As the case comes to us, it remains unclear whether the singing ban applies across the board (and thus constitutes a neutral and generally applicable law) or else favors certain sectors (and thus triggers more searching review). Of course, if a chorister can sing in a Hollywood studio but not in her church, California's regulations cannot be viewed as neutral. But the record is uncertain, and the decisions below unfortunately shed little light on the issue."

In a dissent joined by Breyer and Sotomayor, Kagan repeatedly quotes a statement that Roberts wrote at an earlier stage of the case, where the issue was a 25 percent occupancy cap. Roberts was rightly leery of second-guessing state officials' public health judgments, she suggests, and the same appropriate deference rules out an injunction against a complete ban on indoor services. "Justices of this Court are not scientists," she says. "Nor do we know much about public health policy. Yet today the Court displaces the judgments of experts about how to respond to a raging pandemic."

As Kagan sees it, California is "regulating worship services the same as other activities 'where large groups of people [come together] in close proximity for extended periods of time.'" The relevant comparison, she thinks, is not with the many businesses that enjoy more freedom under California's rules but with activities such as political rallies; "going to a lecture, movie, play, or concert"; and "frequenting a restaurant, winery, or bar." Tier 1 restrictions limit theaters, restaurants, and political gatherings to outdoor settings, for example. In Kagan's view, applying the same rule to churches, mosques, and synagogues does not discriminate against religion.

Kagan's take is questionable for the reasons outlined by Gorsuch, and it is inconsistent with the injunction that the Court issued in November against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's restrictions on religious activities. Those rules limited attendance at religious services to 10 people in "red" zones and 25 in "orange" zones. In other words, they fell short of the complete ban imposed by California, although the churches and synagogues that challenged Cuomo's policy argued that it was prohibitive in practice.

Five justices nevertheless concluded that an injunction against New York's limits was appropriate because the plaintiffs "have made a strong showing that the challenged restrictions violate 'the minimum requirement of neutrality' to religion." And while Roberts thought an injunction was no longer necessary because Cuomo had suddenly decided to loosen his restrictions, he conceded that "numerical capacity limits of 10 and 25 people, depending on the applicable zone, do seem unduly restrictive," and "it may well be that such restrictions violate the Free Exercise Clause."

Whatever your view of these particular cases, the deference favored by Kagan, Breyer, and Sotomayor seems to leave little or no room for judicial review of COVID-19 restrictions. Elected state officials are making decisions based on "experts' scientific findings," Kagan says, and politically unaccountable judges with no such expertise have no business overriding those choices. She complains that "the Court will not let California fight COVID as it thinks appropriate."

Yet the empirical basis for California's COVID-19 policies is often dubious. California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly admitted, for example, that the state's ban on outdoor dining at restaurants (which has since been lifted) was not based on any evidence that outdoor dining was especially dangerous. More generally, San Mateo County Health Officer Scott Morrow noted that the lockdown Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed on December 3 (which has since been replaced by the tier-based restrictions) was "rife with inexplicable inconsistencies of logic." Morrow worried that the burdens associated with that policy could not be justified by its public health payoff. "I'm not sure we know what we're doing," he said.

Kagan's position suggests that courts should "let California fight COVID as it thinks appropriate," even when public health experts question the scientific basis for its policies. Yet judicial review requires courts to weigh means against ends. Policies that impose special restrictions on religious activities, for example, are subject to strict scrutiny, meaning they must be narrowly tailored to advance a compelling government interest. Such analysis is meaningless if courts credulously accept a state's assertion that it has met the test.

In this case, Kagan thinks California is not actually discriminating against religion. Her argument suggests she might reach a different conclusion if the state allowed indoor activities in lecture halls, movie theaters, and restaurants while continuing to prohibit them in houses of worship. But that is by no means certain, given her view of the broad latitude that politicians like Newsom should have in matters of public health. When Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak imposed a 50-person cap on religious services while allowing large groups to gather in close proximity for extended periods of time in casinos, bars, restaurants, gyms, arcades, and bowling alleys, Kagan joined the majority that denied a church's request for an injunction.

"Government actors have been moving the goalposts on pandemic-related sacrifices for months, adopting new benchmarks that always seem to put restoration of liberty just around the corner," Gorsuch writes. "As this crisis enters its second year—
and hovers over a second Lent, a second Passover, and a second Ramadan—it is too late for the State to defend extreme measures with claims of temporary exigency, if it
ever could. Drafting narrowly tailored regulations can be difficult. But if Hollywood may host a studio audience or film a singing competition while not a single soul may enter California's churches, synagogues, and mosques, something has gone seriously awry."

NEXT: The Mushroom Moment Manifesto

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  1. That point is crucial to the case, because the Court has held that the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause does not require religious exemptions from neutral, generally applicable laws.

    What about applying it to individual edicts from unelected health officials? None of this madness is actually a law passed by an elected legislature.

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  2. *sound of record scratch*

    Fauci: Double masking has no benefit.

    So much for all the bullshit Fauci, WaPo, CBS, NBC and MSNBC fed us.

    1. Fauci hasn’t been on TV in the last 5 minutes. He had to do something about that.

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  3. See in 2016 had it been Jeb Bush or some other milquetoast republican the winner would have been Clinton and those three seats would have been far left justices.

    Whatever you think you know about Trump, know that we at least have some kind of backstop in the courts. It may be the only saving grace of a state governments violating your rights, a runaway train called Congress and a dementia patient with his finger on the button.

    1. We also now have a bunch of unhinged, bigoted, far right loons who believe an election was stolen and are willing to use violence to “un-steal it.”

      Biden may be senile, but he at least isn’t unhinged and willing to listen to people around him. Trump is senile(more senile than Biden imo), unhinged, and believes he’s infallible. I’ll take the senile guy who at least is willing to consider he may be wrong sometimes over the senile guy who believes he’s never wrong.
      I go back and forth on whether Trump actually believes the election was stolen or if he’s just conning his supporters.

      1. “We also now have a bunch of unhinged, bigoted, far right loons who believe an election was stolen and are willing to use violence to “un-steal it.””

        That’s right, motherfucker. And you’re name is on the list.

        1. “And you’re name is on the list.”

          Hey Goldilicks Girlshit… You are a name also? What is “you are”, what is “you are’s” name”, besides “brainless mouth-breathing, cousin-fucking, uneducated, backwoods wonder”, I wonder? What is you’re’s REAL name, so that we can “dox” you, so that you’re’s brainlessness’s address, SSN, etc., can be seen by all?

          You LIKE threatening people with “you are’s” name” being put on a hit list, pathetic power-pig, dictorshit-worshipper? Did you know that “what comes around, goes around”? If you are TOO stupid to know that, and will NOT learn by being instructed by more learned and benevolent folks… Then I guess you will learn this by suffering! It is NOT what I wish for, but it is apparently what YOU wish for, evil and stupid one!

          1. Fuck off and die, Sarc.

            1. In his brain I bet that all made perfect sense and was funny as fuck.

              1. And in your brain geiger goldpussy threatening me is fine because I’m not far enough right for you.

                It’s one thing to threaten mormons. They aren’t people like you and me, but threatening violence against non-mormons is uncalled for.

                I love how geiger mcgoldpussy proved my point

                1. “geiger goldpussy threatening me”

                  So you actually are another Sarcasmic/Sqrlsy sockpuppet then?

                  1. 100%

                    The dude is deranged

                    1. Trump Lawyers Argue,House Democrats are proposing to limit the next round of Covid-19 relief payments to households earning less than $200,000, after criticism that President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package would benefit the rich……READ MORE COMMENT

                  2. “We also now have a bunch of unhinged, bigoted, far right loons who believe an election was stolen and are willing to use violence to “un-steal it.””

                    That’s right, motherfucker. And you’re ”

                    Was in response to me, but go on thinking I’m a sock or whatever. I think it’s funny that many of you are so backwards and isolated that the idea of more than 3 to 5 non Trump cult members commenting on this forum is not possible.

                    It’s not like Biden got 7 million more votes than Trump and that you Trump cultists are the minority. You never seem to let facts get in the way of anything.

                    1. Between California and New York lol

                      Minority my ass. Your children will grow up getting raped by Mexicans and faggots.

                    2. We got another racist bigot!

                      I’m ridiculed for making fun of mormons, but racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism are fine.

                      People can’t choose their skin color or sexual orientation. They can choose what church they go to.

                      Eat shit you bigoted reason commenters!

                    3. Well, actually, we can chose our skin color under our tattoos. That’s why Goldilicks Girlshit has a “666” tattoo on its forehead. ‘Cause that’s who it is!

                    4. sarcasmic = SQRSLY = Killallrednecks

                      Kill yourself.

            2. You GO, Girlshit!!! You are a regular go-go-Girlshit!!!

              One of “you’re” MOST persuasive arguments EVAH, Goldilicks Girlshit!!!!

              1. Fuck off and die, Sarc.

                1. I am adding you to the list of Tulpa socks I automatically flag before reloading and reading the comments. Now I never have to read your toxic impotent hate-filled garbage again.

                  1. Add me too, you hatemongering fascist mouthpiece.
                    I’d feel dirtied just knowing you’re reading what I write.

                  2. Let us know when you put up your own Enemies List webpage, including a rambling fever dream about how significant you were to the Libertarian movement because it said so in Wikipedia..

                    1. At least I’m not a white trash racist bigot.

                      I know racism, homophobia, and incest is the norm in the rural shithole you live in…

                      However, most people despise backwards bigots like you.

                      Just a heads up if you decide to stop fucking your sister and go somewhere civilized.

                      Where do you live in Montana?
                      Glendive? Havre? Both are pretty goddamn white trash.

                    2. “At least I’m not a white trash racist bigot”

                      Except you obviously are.

                    3. At least I’m not a white trash racist bigot.

                      You’re a white trash hicklib faggot, so you’re already halfway there.

                      I know racism, homophobia, and incest is the norm in the rural shithole you live in…

                      Leave your upbringing out of this, you hicklib faggot.

                  3. Better yet, flag everyone, turn off your computer, and kill yourself.

                    1. Goldilicks Girlshit, drinking Girlshit Kool-Aid in a spiraling vortex of darkness, cannot or will not see the Light… It’s a VERY sad song! Kinda like this…

                      He’s a real Kool-Aid Man,
                      Sitting in his Kool-Aid Land,
                      Playing with his Kool-Aid Gland,
                      Has no thoughts that help the people,
                      He wants to turn them all to sheeple!
                      On the sheeple, his Master would feast,
                      Master? A disaster! Just the nastiest Beast!
                      Kool-Aid man, please listen,
                      You don’t know, what you’re missin’,
                      Kool-Aid man, better thoughts are at hand,
                      The Beast, to LEAVE, you must COMMAND!

                      A helpful book is to be found here: M. Scott Peck, Glimpses of the Devil
                      https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1439167265/reasonmagazinea-20/

                      Hey Goldilicks Girlshit…
                      If EVERYONE who makes you look bad, by being smarter and better-looking than you, killed themselves, per your wishes, then there would be NO ONE left!
                      Who would feed you? Who’s tits would you suck at, to make a living? WHO would change your perpetually-smelly DIAPERS?!!?
                      You’d better come up with a better plan, Stan!

                    2. flagged and you’re gone.

                    3. Whoa! PhD Computer Scientist here has figured out how to move the mouse-cursor, and click on the flag icon! Congratulations, Stable Genius Junior! Maybe You could write Your NEXT Computer Science PhD thesis on HOW You do that? And thread-clutter-post it EVERY FUCKIN’ TIME that you see a post that you disagree with? And expect all the OTHER marching morons to THANK you profusely?

                      Well now… Have You and any of the other marching morons ever heard of “The Boy Who Cried ‘Wolf’?” Has it ever occurred to You, that the moderators will immediately ignore You and Yours? When you over-flag? Now, when the time comes that Reason.com gets hacked, and some hacker posts a child-porn link to video of YOUR kid or relative’s kids… Or YOU possibly-maybe abusing YOUR kid (think “getting swatted” for trivial bullshit), or “doxes” You and Your SSN, real name, home address, and photo… OR, they post the IP address and WIP security key, access codes, etc., to the self-destruct mechanism in your battery-driven “IP of All Things” penis cage, see https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20210111/08041046030/internet-connected-chastity-cages-hit-bitcoin-ransom-hack.shtml … And You (“The Boy Who Cried ‘Wolf’”) will FLAG the post that unveils all such things… You will be IGNORED, asshole!

                      You ever think of THAT, asshole who cried wolf? I, for one, will NOT flag it when they “dox” you!!! Learn your lessons by SUFFERING, ye who will NOT learn otherwise!

                    4. flagged and i made you fuck off

                  4. “I am adding you to the list”

                    Hey look the prog is virtue signaling.

      2. Democrats claim everyone they lose the election was stolen you retarded fuck.

        1. Insurrectionist unreality-dwelling trumpanzees gone apeshit went FAR more bananas than hillarypanzees EVER went bonkers, psychopathic, evil, power-lusting liar!

          1. Fuck you, Fagasmic.

            1. One of “you’re” MOST persuasive arguments EVAH, Goldilicks Girlshit!!!!

              1. Fuck off and die, Sarc.

              2. You really should be put to death.

                1. You’re the one who supports Treason dude.

                  Why do you hate America Mark Thrust Fascist Traitor?

                  1. Can’t spell Treason, without Reason, you cunt.

                    1. Fuck off you racist homophobe

                    2. Cry more sarcasmic.

          2. Let me try a Sqrlsism:

            Oooga-booga herp-derp Trump breep-boop-bop, rooble hooble BRING BANG wa-wa-wa-wa-GORP!

            1. One of “you’re” MOST persuasive arguments EVAH!!!!

              Do you recall the awesome enchanter named “Tim”, in “Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail”? The one who could “summon fire without flint or tinder”? Well, you remind me of Tim… You are an enchanter who can summon persuasion without facts or logic!

              1. Well that was brief.

                What happened to the usual fifty feet of retard copypasta? I didn’t even have to spamflag this post.

                1. A welcome omission.

                  1. On a funnier note, you’ll notice Sqrlsy just inferred that the nonsense words Oooga-booga were “facts” and a “persuasive argument”.

        2. JesseAZ:
          I’m aware of Stacey Abrams and some supporters making that claim when she lost her campaign for governor.

          In 2000 people claimed the SC stole it, but after the court decision Gore conceded.

          In 2004 there were some accusations about Ohio, but as far as I know Keith Olberman was the most well known person making that claim and he was just a talk show host.

          I may have missed some, but you don’t have any democrats disputing an election anywhere near the level Trump and the GOP have.

          Hilary losing the EC winning the popular vote, but conceding the next day and Obama/Biden working with Trump/Pence and Hilary writing a book giving her opinion on why she lost IS NOT ANYWHERE CLOSE TO WHAT TRUMP IS DOING. Sorry for the long run on sentence. Trump claimed there was fraud in that election as well.

          No democrats have done anything like Trump is doing. Christ you right wing kooks were all up in Clinton, Susan Rice, and Obama’s ass for years because they gave a press conference that cited bad intelligence, but then corrected themselves hours later. The GOP did multiple investigations and they all found that there was no wrong doing.
          This isn’t an endorsement of any of those people, but Jesus Christ you right wing kooks would be calling for treason charges against Obama if he said or did anything close to what Trump does

          1. What? No exhortation to murder Mormons?

            1. That goes without saying…

              Are you mormon?

              1. Your mother is a Mormon, sarcfaggot.

              2. The Democrats disqualification goes far beyond the psychiatric restrictions that federal law currently imposes on gun ownership, which are already overly broad but apply only to people who have undergone court-ordered treatment…READ MORE

      3. “unhinged, bigoted, far right loons”
        “KillAllRednecks”

        Lol.

      4. Mitt Romney agrees with you. So Mitt Romney is now your buddy.

        1. Mark Thrust Fascist Traitor you will speak when spoken to you anti-american Nazi!

          Romney isn’t as bad as far as mormons go. Being a spineless politician is more important than his faith, so he’s not bad for a Mormon.

          His nice Ronna who is head of the RNC though…
          She is the definition of fat Mormon cunt.
          She probably fucked Trump to get her position.
          Vegetables

          1. Cry more SQRLSY.

            1. Hey Damiksec, damiskec, and damikesc, and ALL of your other socks…
              How is your totalitarian scheme to FORCE people to buy Reason magazines coming along?

              https://reason.com/podcast/jonathan-rauch-on-cancel-culture-and-the-unending-battle-for-free-speech/#comments
              Free speech (freedom from “Cancel Culture”) comes from Facebook, Twitter, Tik-Tok, and Google, right? THAT is why we need to pass laws to prohibit these DANGEROUS companies (which, ugh!, the BASTARDS, put profits above people!)!!! We must pass new laws to retract “Section 230” and FORCE the evil corporations to provide us all (EXCEPT for my political enemies, of course!) with a “UBIFS”, a Universal Basic Income of Free Speech!

              So leftist “false flag” commenters will inundate Reason-dot-com with shitloads of PROTECTED racist comments, and then pissed-off readers and advertisers and buyers (of Reason magazine) will all BOYCOTT Reason! And right-wing idiots like Damikesc will then FORCE people to support Reason, so as to nullify the attempts at boycotts! THAT is your ultimate authoritarian “fix” here!!!

              “Now, to “protect” Reason from this meddling here, are we going to REQUIRE readers and advertisers to support Reason, to protect Reason from boycotts?”
              Yup. Basically. Sounds rough. (Quote damikesc)
              (Etc.)
              See https://reason.com/2020/06/24/the-new-censors/#comments

    2. I’ve seen “Principled Republicans” unironically claim that Hillary had no chance against whomever the Republican Party chose to put up in 2020.

      I mean, Jesus Christ, how post facto deluded do you have to be? Jeb was literally pushed to the front of the pack by the party establishment after he declared, in order to be the GOPs sacrificial lamb. Only a party run by complete pussies nominates the member of a political family that had become completely toxic after his brother left office.

      Meanwhile, Hillary’s camp deliberately worked to get news organizations to boost Trump’s signal because she wanted a cakewalk to the Presidency. These people literally treat politics like professional wrestling; no wonder they completely lost their shit after Hillary lost. Trump was supposed to do the J-O-B, but the motherfucker ended up winning, so the oligarchs running the two parties and their media organs decided to execute the political equivalent of the Montreal Screwjob.

      1. Poor Jeb… “Please clap” just broke his little heart.

    3. And a sub-human piece of FILTH…the vilest sort imaginable…second in line should our “President” ever become “incapacitated”. Any one who will fight and use remote technicalities to knowingly keep innocent people in prison has no level to which they will not stoop! Kuh-MAH-luh Harris should be rotting in a women’s prison; not sitting next in line for the White House.

  4. It’s sad that this even had to go to the courts. Religious people should just have ignored the prohibitions en masse and attended services. It would have been impossible to round up thousands of people (and very hypocritical). But too few of us fought and we let them divide us. This decision is too little too late. They won.

    My recommendation from the beginning was to host COVID parties at churches and let people live there for a week or so to develop immunity. Then they could go out and safely treat the sick. But this strategy was unthinkable even to people who generally oppose oppressive restrictions. In late stage capitalism, most people actually want to create new albeit artificial challenges. Only looking back at trillions in debt and health and financial problems caused by 2 years in limbo will the mistake be obvious.

    1. Only looking back at trillions in debt and health and financial problems caused by 2 years in limbo will the mistake be obvious.

      “‘Mistake’? What is this ‘mistake’ of which you speak? BWAHAHAHAHAAA!!”

    2. “My recommendation from the beginning was to host COVID parties at churches and let people live there for a week or so to develop immunity. “

      Why restrict it to churches? It would be easy to just spread the virus among the general population. Just put it in spray bottles and spray everyone. Instant immunity.

      1. I’ve been informed by Very Smart People that just leaving the house and walking amongst the general population increases the chances of spreading the coof. What the fuck would I need a spray bottle for?

    3. “Religious people should just have ignored the prohibitions en masse and attended services. It would have been impossible to round up thousands of people”
      Some churches did ignore the prohibitions. The “authorities” didn’t even try to round up the people. They just fined the churches thousands of dollars and threatened them with bankruptcy.

      https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/529424-court-fines-california-church-55000-for-repeatedly-defying-health-orders

      https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/california/articles/2020-09-17/bay-area-church-fined-112k-for-holding-indoor-services

    4. Have you ever thought of the possibility that this was a “heart check” for some Christians? The ones who were never really devoted in the first place are probably the ones that hopped on board the pandemic pandemonium train as their excuse to skip out and not look obvious.

  5. The state never explained “why the less restrictive option of limiting the number of people who may gather at one time is insufficient for houses of worship, even though it has found that answer adequate for so many stores and businesses.”

    “Oh, very well. FYTW!”

  6. Can we just admit that the “liberal” justices think the government can and should do whatever the fuck it wants, without restraint, so long as it fucks over anyone with even an inkling of a conservative bone in their body?

    The “liberal” bloc are authoritarian twats and their legal reasoning is nothing more than a smokescreen for rabid partisan urges.

    1. Of course. But most people are liberals these days. And relentlessly insulting them isn’t going to make them suddenly grow ‘an inkling of a conservative bone’.

      1. Most people aren’t liberal. Most of them are progressive. And progressives should kill themselves before forcing their distopia on others

        1. Most people don’t care. They just want to be left alone and fix the traffic problem on Rt. 8.

      2. You’re kinda shit at concern trolling, Screech. Maybe try and find a different way to astroturf.

      3. I don’t want them to do anything other than mind their own fucking business. If that’s too much to ask, there are other options. I don’t want understanding. I don’t want friends. They are irredeemable totalitarian assholes that deserve to be put in the ground.

  7. Elected state officials are making decisions based on “experts’ scientific findings,” Kagan says, and politically unaccountable judges with no such expertise have no business overriding those choices.

    I must say it’s a little odd that only California’s experts seemed to find it scientifically necessary to forbid all indoor church services – I’d be checking the credentials of all those experts in the other 49 states.

    Or maybe the idea that California or any other state are using experts to establish guidelines rather than just pulling shit out of their ass is a rebutable presumption. Let’s look at how uniform these guidelines are across the states as you might expect them to be if it were true that scientific experts were establishing the guidelines, shall we? I mean, surely science doesn’t vary from state to state, does it? So shouldn’t these scientific experts be all coming to the same conclusions? And how uniform do we find these guidelines?

    Oh dear, it’s almost as if there’s nothing scientific about them at all. It’s almost like the states are picking and choosing which parts of “the science” they want to follow and which they don’t in a completely capricious and arbitrary manner. If only Kagan knew enough about science to recognize the difference between astronomy and astrology, perhaps she wouldn’t be quite so baffled by bullshit – these aren’t scientific experts developing these guidelines, it’s the same old retarded politicians who make every other goddamn decision in the state.

    1. Did you think economics was science?

    2. Oh and then we bring religion into it.

      I think it is best for politics to stay as far away from that as it can and then two steps more.

    3. How come no one ever asked who these scientist were that were advising Newsome

    4. It’s incredible how confident they are in their inability to scrutinize “what scientists and public health experts do.” Really inspires confidence:
      “To state the obvious, judges do not know what scientists and public health experts do. I am sure that, in deciding this case, every Justice carefully examined the briefs and read the decisions below. But I cannot imagine that any of us delved into the scientific research on how COVID spreads, or studied the strategies for containing it. 592 U. S. ____ (2021), at 5 (KAGAN, J., dissenting).
      […]
      It is difficult enough in a predictable legal environment to craft COVID policies that keep communities safe. That task becomes harder still when officials must guess which restrictions this Court will choose to strike down. Id at 6.
      […] But if this decision causes suffering, we will not pay. Our
      marble halls are now closed to the public, and our life tenure forever insulates us from responsibility for our errors.
      That would seem good reason to avoid disrupting a State’s
      pandemic response. But the Court forges ahead regardless,
      insisting that science-based policy yield to judicial edict. Id.”

      What an embarrassment.

  8. Restaurants, bars, clubs, gyms etc. lining up to be houses of worship of the Church of Perpetual Indulgence.

  9. It’s really ironic that people who claim to care about others really truly don’t give a fuck about them.

    Story of the right for decades now..

    1. That actually describes you to a T.

      Face it, you’re not actually good people who just feel too passionately about injustice. You’re terrible, awful, evil people who are using injustice as an excuse to indulge your garbage natures.

      1. Says power pig Mamma, who wants to take over YOUR private property, on YOUR web site, and tell YOU what you may and may not do with it!

        Says Mamma the moosefucker, from Canuckistanistanistanistan, who has NO business meddling with “Section 230” laws of the USA! Mamma wants to have the Mounties, the Red-Coats, invade the USA, and take away OUR free speech! Because Mamma the moosefucker is a meddling busy-body who gets off on bossing others around, and gets a YUUUUGE punishment boner, at the prospect of PUNISHING those who DARE to DISOBEY Her Will!

        I could go on…

        1. You outed yourself again yesterday. Lol.

        2. “I could go on…”

          I guarantee you could, space cadet.

        3. Fuck off and die, Sarcfaggot.

    2. When was the last time you did charity work? Like most liberals i guess it is never.

      1. https://luke1428.com/giving-to-charity-in-secretbecause-its-not-about-me/

        Giving to Charity in Secret…Because It’s Not About Me

        You probably think of yourself as “Christian”, don’t you, hypocritical, lying, evil one junior?

        1. I’m pretty sure that you could count the number of progressives who donate to food banks, foreign aid and medical charities on one finger.
          Leftists don’t understand what charity is. They can’t imagine doing something for others that ultimately doesn’t give them some benefit, whether status, monetary gain or the ability to indulge in a peccadillo. This is why they demand that the government do something.

          This is the point Jesse was making, he was telling raspberries to examine himself, not to list his accomplishments to us.

          And as usual, you totally missed the point.

          1. “I’m pretty sure that you could count the number of progressives who donate to food banks, foreign aid and medical charities on one finger.”

            Citation please!

            You know, there ARE progressives who are REAL Christians, and who obey Christ’s commands to keep their charity SECRET! So how would YOU know, anyway, power-pig one? Are you an All-Seeing One now as well? Eye of Sauron, Oh Magnificent One?

            1. Fuck off and die, Sarcasseater

              1. Suicide really is the only way for him.

                1. How much can he possibly be paid to persistently pollute the comments? It’s completely insane.

                2. Sexless Stranger worships Jimmy Jones, mass suicide, and Satan, AKA the Evil One! Sexless Stranger is an evil one junior! What a surprise!

                  1. God you’re stupid sarcasmic.

                    1. Wow, what clever wit! Did your mommy help you write that?

                    2. poof

                      made you fuck off again sarcasmic

                  2. The truth hurts you, doesn’t it? You know deep down that I’m right.

            2. Every progressive I’ve ever met hates Christianity with the same passion that Hitler reserved for Judaism.
              Go ask your pals Tony, DOL, raspberries, Nuttplug and Chemjeff what they think about charity and Christianity. I bet they’d give even Richard Dawkins the creeps.

              1. It’s all one person.

                1. You have ZERO reasons to believe that I post under multiple names here, other than, you are fearful that (OMG!) there might be MORE THAN ONE person out there, who is capable of writing eloquently enough to persuade other intelligent and flexible-minded (open-minded) people that individual freedom is a REALLY good idea! So you engage in wish fulfillment fantasy, telling yourself that they are all one and the same, so that you and your fellow authoritarians can out-number them more easily. Good luck with that, mind-reader who failed!

                  You believe crap that is totally false, w/o evidence to back yourself up! Just like Rob Misek and the other fantasy-addicted authoritarians around here!

                  1. “You have ZERO reasons to believe that I post under multiple names here, ”

                    You’ve outed your sockpuppets repeatedly.

                  2. Here you are, Sarc …. outinng yourself:

                    sarcasmic
                    February.5.2021 at 3:30 pm
                    Old school Democrats are a dying breed, but they’re not extinct yet.

                    Rod Rosenstein
                    February.5.2021 at 4:32 pm
                    Manchin gon’ save us, just like he did from Obamacare, right you bootlicking pathetic bitch who fucks his own child?

                    Mother’s Lament
                    February.5.2021 at 4:36 pm
                    Not anymore, they got a restraining order. His poor ex…

                    SQRLSY One
                    February.6.2021 at 8:03 am
                    Do you ever actually make any arguments, or present any facts?

                    Why is Jeff so shitty?
                    February.6.2021 at 8:31 am
                    Do you realoze you forgot which sock you were using again sucassmic?

                    Mother’s Lament
                    February.6.2021 at 10:05 am
                    ???
                    I just presented the fact that sarcasmic’s ex took out a restraining order on him.
                    I know you’re not very bright Sqrlsy, but wow.

                    Geiger Goldstaedt
                    February.6.2021 at 10:36 am
                    Damn.

                    Sarc again outed himself as squirrel turd.

                    They really must be paying him in barrels of shit.

        2. You actually think that verse supports your assertion that progressives can be good Christians?

          That spirit of that verse is antithetical to everything progressives stand for. Their whole political stance involves shouting from the highest mountaintops how morally superior they are because of how they vote and the types of policies they want. At the same time, they are constantly bashing everything Christians stand for because the Bible has this embarrassing way of always staying the same and not changing with societal trends. Also, we’re trying to get people to worship the state here, not this Jesus guy. Everything about it is just so politically inconvenient.

          In short, being a good Christian means caring more about what God thinks of you than what other people or the government think.
          While being a good progressive means being extremely public about how subservient you are to the State and saying and doing all of the right things, so you can hopefully get all of the perks of being on the right side of the revolution and not get put against the wall. They’re just not compatible.

          1. If you have an open mind left, and really want to actually LEARN about associated matters, please read Peter McWilliams, Ain’t Nobody’s Business… https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/192976717X/reasonmagazinea-20/

            The author writes from a secular, libertarian standpoint, but discusses religion in America a LOT! HIGHLY relevant, and an EXCELLENT book! In a nutshell: The Bible, and Christianity, and benevolence, are NOT the sole property of conservatives, or liberals, or libertarians! All this belongs to ALL of us!

            (Some liberals suck, and are busy-bodies. The same can be said of ANY other group!)

            1. god still hates you sarcasmic

              1. Dimmed-and-Sick is one of those self-styled “Good Christians” full to the brim with HATE, right?

                1. Ha the idiot thinks I’m God lol

                  fuck off idiot I’m not God lolollol

                  1. Wow, what literary talent and rapier wit! Let’s see if I can match or exceed it, with some OTHER brilliantly smart comments that I have created just now!

                    Fuck off, spaz!
                    You eat shit, you said so yourself!
                    You’re a racist Hitler-lover!
                    Take your meds!
                    That’s so retarded!
                    You’re a Marxist!
                    Your feet stink and you don’t love Trump!
                    Your source is leftist, so it must be false!
                    Trump rules and leftists drool!
                    You are SOOO icky-poo!
                    But Goo-Goo-Gah-Gah!

                    Wow, I am now 11 times as smart and original as you are!

                    1. Fuck off Sarc:

                      sarcasmic
                      February.5.2021 at 3:30 pm
                      Old school Democrats are a dying breed, but they’re not extinct yet.

                      Rod Rosenstein
                      February.5.2021 at 4:32 pm
                      Manchin gon’ save us, just like he did from Obamacare, right you bootlicking pathetic bitch who fucks his own child?

                      Mother’s Lament
                      February.5.2021 at 4:36 pm
                      Not anymore, they got a restraining order. His poor ex…

                      SQRLSY One
                      February.6.2021 at 8:03 am
                      Do you ever actually make any arguments, or present any facts?

                      Why is Jeff so shitty?
                      February.6.2021 at 8:31 am
                      Do you realoze you forgot which sock you were using again sucassmic?

                      Mother’s Lament
                      February.6.2021 at 10:05 am
                      ???
                      I just presented the fact that sarcasmic’s ex took out a restraining order on him.
                      I know you’re not very bright Sqrlsy, but wow.

                      Geiger Goldstaedt
                      February.6.2021 at 10:36 am
                      Damn.

                      Sarc again outed himself as squirrel turd.

                      They really must be paying him in barrels of shit.

          2. Also relevant, an inoculation against too many sweeping statements about too many groups. We are all individuals!

            Quote from Alexander Solzhenitsyn, THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO:
            “It was granted me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer, and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. And it was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties eitherbut right through every human heartand through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains… an unuprooted small corner of evil.
            “Since then I have come to understand the truth of all the religions of the world: they struggle with the evil inside a human being….. It is impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person.
            And since that time I have come to understand the falsehood of all the revolutions in history: They destroy only those carriers of evil contemporary with them…. And they then take to themselves as their heritage the actual evil itself….”

            SQRLSY comments on the above:

            Alex talks about a LOT of things above, there, and it is all worth a very careful read. The line between good and evil being in each person’s heart is critical; else the inherently arrogant ones amongst us, whose DNA or karma or some such strange thing disposes us towards certain lies, will start spouting (or even just inwardly believing, which is bad enough) things like “Only Christians go to Heaven”… Which then mutates into “Only Baptists go to Heaven”, then “Only the Baptists in MY exact church go to Heaven”, and finally to our intended-from-the-git-go target, “God shines on Me and Me alone”. I think I need not bother to add anything about what kinds of actions may result from this kind of thinking.

            1. god hates you sarcasmic

          3. Also one last thing: If we are genuinely benevolent and wise (as Christians or Muslims or atheists or ANY group, ideology, or viewpoint), we will look for BALANCE!

            For all ideological hard-core warmongers everywhere…

            So ye lust after the utter, eternal destruction of the “D” team, and the eternal victory of the “R” team? (The inverse kind of ideological idiot exists also, but not so much, on these pages).

            “R” team likes to demonize “D” team? Biden is going to outlaw the internal combustion engine, tomorrow, to “Make American Green Again”? The NEW MAGA? Bullshit, demonizers!

            “D” team likes to say that the next “R” POTUS (Alex Jones maybe?) will outlaw ALL abortion, and birth control? And turn ALL women into enslaved baby-making machines, because every sperm is sacred? Bullshit, demonizers!

            All is for The Hive… The Tribe-Nation… Or, All is for the Individual, and you may NOT (of your own supposed “free will”) join a VOLUNTARY commune?! There can be NO compromise, traitors!!!

            The males must UTTERLY DEFEAT the females, who must NEVER speak again!

            Yin must smash Yang, till Yang exists no more!

            Creation must smash destruction! NO eggs may be broken, for making omelets!

            Life must rule over death, and NO ONE may die, to make room for the new living! No matter HOW old and decrepit they get! YOU MAY NOT DIE!!!

            Do you ideological idiots NOT see that “R” v/s “D” falls into the same category? You would destroy it ALL (multi-party democracy, “balance”) in the name of your POWER PIG FANTASIES!!!

            The ONLY way that ye will get your “ultimate victory” is in the DEATH OF IT ALL!!! The new POTUS, Alex Jones, will declare Nuclear War for the Ultimate Victory… And yin and yang, male and female, “D” and “R”, individual v/s tribe… they all ARE NO MORE!!!

            Are you HAPPY now, ideological idiots and power-lusters?!!?

            1. God hates you sarcasmic.

            2. No one hear is interested in a discussion with you. Your endless shitposting of your gibber has guaranteed that. So you and all your socks can just go away. We mostly just flag your posts anymore anyway.

    3. It’s really ironic that people who claim to care about others really truly don’t give a fuck about them.

      Yes. That’s why they hope those XL pipeline workers can find other jobs, right, shitlunches?

      1. Don’t worry, John Kerry said all those petroleum engineers, geologists, field consultants, boilermakers, drilling supervisors, pipefitters, steam truck operators, etc. can get new jobs building solar panels… presumably in China.

        After all, a being a refinery operator or a reservoir engineer are exactly like an assembly line job.

        1. If you can shovel coal into a furnace, then you can hand-separate oxides from silicates!

          /Biden Logic.

    4. Yeah, no fucking shit, faggot. Your hyper-reductive, solipsistic worldview has caused thousands of small businesses to go under, senior citizens to die in nursing homes from despair due to not seeing their relatives, children to commit suicide, domestic violence rates to go up, and global megacorps to become even larger and more wealthy than ever.

      The day your kind get thrown head-first out of a helicopter is the day the country starts healing again.

  10. “federal courts owe significant deference to politically accountable officials with the “‘background, competence, and expertise to assess public health,'”

    Ridiculous statement from Roberts. They aren’t politically accountable. They have civil service protections for many of them.

    1. At least he said “politically *accountable* officials” instead of drawing a phony distinction between “the judicial branch” and “the political branches.”

  11. What? You mean the SCOTUS isn’t loaded with fascists yet? Biden will fix that!

    1. He misses justices like Louis Brandeis, whom he went to school with.

      1. Which is interesting since Brandeis died in 1941 and Biden was born in 1942.

        1. Biden says he was born in 1942. He also says he graduated from Harvard Law at the top of his class with dual M.D.s and flew with the Tuskegee Airmen.

          And learn how age jokes work.

          1. (Hears whooshing sound)

        2. Lol, wtf.
          Next you’re going to tell us Biden couldn’t have fought a duel with Andrew Jackson or watched Noah build his ark.

          1. Claim: Biden is older than the hills.

            Fact Check: FALSE. Consultation with geologists discloses that, at his age, Biden would in fact be *younger* than most hills existing on the planet…

  12. When Gavin Newsom discovers that he’s not God, it’s going to cause an existential crisis for him.

    1. But Gavin Newsom is part of Government Almighty, which is GAWD!

      Scienfoology Song… GAWD = Government Almighty’s Wrath Delivers

      Government loves me, This I know,
      For the Government tells me so,
      Little ones to GAWD belong,
      We are weak, but GAWD is strong!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      My Nannies tell me so!

      GAWD does love me, yes indeed,
      Keeps me safe, and gives me feed,
      Shelters me from bad drugs and weed,
      And gives me all that I might need!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      My Nannies tell me so!

      DEA, CIA, KGB,
      Our protectors, they will be,
      FBI, TSA, and FDA,
      With us, astride us, in every way!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      My Nannies tell me so!

      1. Two good things I can say about the Washington Post comments section.

        1. They let you edit comments.

        2. They have an “ignore” button that lets you hide comments from idiots.

      2. We’ve seen this stupid parody enough times. Put it to bed already.

    2. Democrats NEVER EVER EVER EVER “discovers” they’re not Gods.

      If that was ever to happen; they’d have to acknowledge that at least ONE of their tyrannical authoritarian Revolutionary PLANS to “Fundamentally Change” the Nation from Individual Liberty to Nazism would be in error and they’d no longer be a Democrat but instead a Republican.

  13. Meanwhile, Biden told the media today that schools can be reopened – just as soon as they all have their HVAC systems redesigned, and upgraded (among several other things).

    Biden told CBS’s Norah O’Donnell in an interview that aired in part before the Super Bowl that he believed “it’s time for schools to reopen safely,” after calling it a “national emergency” that about 20 million American children have not been in a classroom for almost a year.

    “You have to have fewer people in the classroom,” he said. “You have to have ventilation systems that have been reworked. Our CDC commissioner is gonna be coming out with science-based judgement within I think as early as Wednesday as to lay out what the minimum requirements are.”

    https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/537750-cdc-could-lay-out-school-reopening-requirements-this-week-biden-says

    Either these people have no idea how much time, work, and expense would be involved to do these things, or they believe that we don’t.

    1. Hey, just a few more trillion-dollar coins should cover it! No biggee!

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trillion-dollar_coin

    2. PS, constructive suggestion here: When you have your ventilation systems checked to see if they’re up to snuff, make sure that you hire the inspection company which has hired Hunter Biden as a consultant! Then we can go easier on having quite so many new trillion-dollar coins minted!

      1. Fuck off sarcasmic.

          1. ok!

            flagged, refreshed, you = fucked off.

            Bye!

              1. lol he’s so fucking stupid that he didn’t think we could

                1. I am SOOOOO impressed by your computer skills, stable genius junior!

                  1. fuck off sarcasmic

          2. It wouldn’t be difficult. You’re clearly a weak little pussy.

      2. I don’t think that HVAC dust is the type of powder he likes to snort.

    3. How many kids will catch their death from cold from now over drafty school classrooms. note these new HVAC systems double the schools CO2 output. how un green can they be

  14. covid 19 is just a scam created by corporates to earn thousands of dollars. I don’t believe in covid 19 and banning anything will not help. Just play to lord Jesus

    1. Versus; Covid-19 is real but instead of allowing people to protect themselves they must pray to the lord Gov to thrust it’s Gov-Guns down on the people; ban everything and steal $40,000 per citizen?

  15. Why is this even being argued on religious grounds? 1st amendment right to freedom of assembly is sufficient and where libertarians should be more interested. I really don’t get why so many 1A cases are being addressed so narrowly on religious grounds when the case is stronger on other Constitutional aspects

    1. “Why is this even being argued on religious grounds? 1st amendment right to freedom of assembly is sufficient”

      Well no actually, it isn’t. The right to assemble is the weaker of the arguments actually.

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  18. It is currently unclear if *anyone* is legally permitted to sing indoors in California (outside the entertainment industry). Much as I can’t stand a cappella, I’m more concerned that our population views such an (albeit unenforced) infringement as acceptable, at any level of scrutiny.

    “The application is denied with respect to the prohibition on singing”

    “The district court did not address the singing ban, and the Ninth Circuit applied rational basis review because it was not convinced that anyone is permitted to sing indoors in California.”

    1. Since religion most often involves singing and even (gasp) dancing I would think the two were related.

      The great Reverend James Brown.

      https://youtu.be/xbq0OuJtErs

  19. California: Huh? We thought the First Amendment protected approved Free Speech. Religion is in there too?

  20. We must bear these complications for the sake of public safety
    https://riyadhcorner.com/

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