A divided Supreme Court on Friday night granted a request by a California pastor to put COVID-related restrictions on in-home Bible study and prayer meetings on hold. The ruling, issued just before midnight, was the most recent in a series of challenges, dating back almost to the start of the pandemic, to restrictions on in-person gatherings. Chief Justice John Roberts indicated that he would have denied the request; Justice Elena Kagan filed a dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.
The pastor, Jeremy Wong, and others came to the Supreme Court last week, asking the justices to be allowed to hold Bible study and prayer meetings in their homes. They told the court that by either banning such gatherings, or restricting them to no more than three households, depending on COVID rates, while allowing people to gather in various secular activities, the state was violating their right under the First Amendment to freely exercise their religion. They asked the justices for an emergency order barring the state from enforcing the policy while they continued litigating the issue in the lower courts.Divided court blocks California’s COVID-related restrictions on in-home religious gatherings – SCOTUSblog