Five times since March 2020 church leaders in California have taken Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom all the way up to the Supreme Court. Five times the High Court has slapped down some aspect of his authoritarian Covid lockdown measures as violations of the First Amendment’s guarantee to every American citizen of the right to worship and assemble without prior permission or limitation of government
The infamous Ninth Circuit has typically been there aiding and abetting Newsom, so the High Court’s most recent slap-down was aimed at both the liberals on that bench and California’s chief executive.
Despite the five reprimands, however, Newsom clearly has no intention of backing off of what surely appears to any reasonable observer to be a concerted campaign to bar as many California Christians as possible from observing the New Testament command at Hebrews 10:25 that they regularly “assemble together” for worship of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Whether he’s motivated by petty partisan pique because he thinks most of the Christians voted against him and his radical left-wing party cohorts or because he has a particular beef against their faith, Newsom routinely acts as an enemy of religious freedom.
Just consider his response to the most recent decision from the High Court, which notably ended with the clearly irritated conservative majority reminding Newsom and the Ninth Circuit authoritarians that strict scrutiny “‘is not watered down’; it ‘really means what it says.’”
Strict scrutiny is the High Court’s long-established doctrine that officials may not limit religious freedom unless they can present convincing proof that they are acting in the least intrusive manner and applying it equally, have no reasonable alternative, and are moving against a clear public health threat. Newsom has consistently failed on all three counts.
And in his response earlier this week to that fifth reprimand, Newsom made it clear, according to Liberty Counsel, that he isn’t backing off any time soon.
“After five reprimands from the U.S. Supreme Court, Governor Newsom responded on Monday to Liberty Counsel’s lawsuit that ‘mandatory limits on attendance are no longer imposed on houses of worship.’ However, there are still restrictions on singing and chanting and Gov. Newsom wants the freedom to reinstate the same unconstitutional restrictions,” Liberty Counsel explains in its analysis.
“After removing all capacity restrictions on churches this past Monday, Gov. Newsom filed his brief at the Ninth Circuit. He notes that the capacity restrictions were removed because of the court cases, but he clearly wants to reimpose them.
“His brief notes that the ‘Blueprint’ would be lifted by June 15 only if ‘hospitalizations remain low and all state residents 16 and older have access to the vaccine.’ The Governor states it is unlikely he resurrects the previous restrictions ‘any time soon.’ In fact, in his own statement, Governor Newsom explicitly stated that he maintains ‘the option to revisit the June 15 date if needed.’”
Clearly, this guy either just doesn’t get it, or he has absolutely no qualms about acting in defiance of repeated decisions by this nation’s highest judicial tribunal if that’s what it takes for him to stuff the First Amendment rights of millions of his fellow citizens.
Perhaps nobody should be surprised that the recall petition seeking to remove Newsom from office has gathered more than 2.1 million signatures, while the law only required slightly fewer than 1.5 million signatures in order to put the question before all California voters.
In the meantime, Liberty Counsel Founder and President Matt Staver offers this sterling suggestion:
“Governor Gavin Newsom still wants to return to his unconstitutional restrictions to silence the churches despite five reprimands from the U.S. Supreme Court. Governor Newsom must be permanently quarantined so that he never imposes unconstitutional restrictions on churches.”