Pastor Ché Ahn of the Pasadena, California-based Harvest Rock Church must have felt a special satisfaction upon reading these words in last week’s decision issued by U.S. District Court Judge Jesus G. Bernal:
Defendant shall pay Plaintiffs the sum of $1,350,000 for Plaintiffs’ reasonable attorney’s fees and costs necessarily incurred in this case. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1961, post-judgment interest shall begin to accrue 60 days from the date the Court signs the final judgment.
The defendant in this case was none other than California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Harvest Rock was represented from beginning to end on a journey that included a huge victory in the U.S. Supreme Court by Mat Staver’s Liberty Counsel.
The awarding of attorneys fees is the icing on the cake of freedom won by Staver and his colleagues in the courts against Newsom’s repressive and anti-science Covid-19 restrictions. The overall ruling represents the first permanent statewide injunctive relief in such cases anywhere in the country.
The Harvest Rock victory is the latest in a string of profoundly important wins for the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom and practice from New York to California and from the federal district courts all the way to the chambers in the big building at One Street NE in the nation’s capital.
But you probably didn’t hear about this latest loss for Newsom because the “editors” and “reporters” of the mainstream media giants like the Washington Post and the New York Times couldn’t be bothered to report it.
The last time the Post covered it, according to the site’s search engine, was this Feb. 6, 2021, story on Harvest Rock’s Supreme Court victory. And the most recent entry according to the search engine for the New York Times was its April 5 updating of its similar story on the February Supreme Court decision.
I’ll leave it to the “journalists” at those once-respected media outlets to explain their obvious lack of news judgment, but my suggestion is that they don’t want to do anything to help any of the crowd of candidates lining up to oppose Newsom in the forthcoming recall election to be held sometime later this year.
A key part of the reason recall supporters were able to gather more signatures than needed to force a recall election on Newsom was the fact he issued the most restrictive limits in the nation on church worship assemblies and related activities in responding to the Covid pandemic. Newsom’s actions were clearly biased, even vengeful.
Somehow or other, Newsom and his allies in the California legislature, bureaucracy, and media concluded that the same people who were free to go to Walmart, the corner bar, or local Safeway without worrying about getting Covid would be instantly infected by stepping foot in a church.
It soon became plain to anybody with open eyes that Newsom was outrageously violating the First Amendment rights of millions of Californians. Protests and “illegal” worship gatherings became a common occurrence in the Golden State, as did state and local officials threatening pastors and church members with jail time and millions of dollars in fines.
Thank God that we still have in America judges who recognize that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights remain the Supreme Law of the Land and must be respected. The American Founders knew to expect political power-seekers like Newsom would come along and they created a government system designed to both contain such persons from succeeding and to equip citizens with effective means of redress.
Pastor Ahn is understandably happy with his lawyers, saying in a statement issued by Liberty Counsel:
“This is a momentous day for churches in America! After nearly a yearlong battle defending our religious freedoms, our lawsuit has reached a permanent settlement in our favor. I am thrilled to see the complete reversal of the last discriminatory restrictions against churches in California, knowing this case will act as a precedent, not only in our state, but also in our nation.
“We are incredibly grateful to our attorney Mat Staver and to Liberty Counsel for their relentless support and fierce determination. Most of all, we give all the glory to God for moving mightily in this historic season!”
For Staver, the decision speaks a new birth of freedom in California for pastors and laymen alike:
“Governor Gavin Newsom’s COVID restrictions intentionally discriminated against churches while providing preferential treatment to many secular businesses and gatherings. The Supreme Court intervened multiple times to provide relief. California may never again place discriminatory restrictions on churches and places of worship.
“Gov. Gavin Newsom has now been permanently quarantined and may not violate the First Amendment rights of churches and places of worship again. We are grateful for Pastor Ché Ahn, Harvest Rock Church, and Harvest International Ministry. Pastor Ahn’s leadership and courage has toppled the tyranny and freed every pastor and church in California.”
I have a hunch that historians will someday conclude the hopefully coming rebirth of individual liberty across America began with the great battles fought and won on behalf of the First Amendment in 2020 and 2021.