There is no end in sight to Governor Newsom’s unconstitutional restrictions on Californians’ right to engage in political speech, worship freely, and earn a living. Now, the Governor’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” calls for continued restrictions even after a county reports three consecutive weeks without a positive COVID-19 test.
That is why the Center for American Liberty is fighting back—to restore civil liberties for millions of Americans across the state of California.
On October 13, 2020, the Center for American Liberty, on behalf of plaintiffs Ritesh Tandon, Pastor Jeremy Wong, Karen Busch, Terry and Carolyn Gannon, Connie Richards, Julie Evarkiou, Dhruv Khanna, Frances Beaudet, and Maya Mansour, in coordination with Eimer Stahl, LLP, sued California Governor Gavin Newsom and Santa Clara County Executive Jeffrey Smith, challenging unconstitutional restrictions on religious and political gatherings.
In the name of stopping the spread of COVID-19, state and local officials closed churches and businesses, banned political events, and even prohibited individuals from hosting small gatherings in their homes. The emergency orders issued by the Governor, the California Department of Public Health, and Santa Clara County officials restrict the Plaintiffs’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to exercise their religion, engage in political speech, and earn a living.
Even more concerning is the indication that the Defendants have no intention of relinquishing their extraordinary emergency powers. According to the State’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy”, even if a county has reported zero positive cases for over three weeks—and thus is in the “yellow” tier—churches, gyms, and movie theaters are still limited to 50% capacity. Moreover, there is no “green” tier in which all restrictions are eliminated. In other words, these regulations will extend indefinitely even after COVID-19 has disappeared.
The Government’s Orders violate the right to the free exercise of religion, the freedom of speech, equal protection, and the right to earn a living. Because these Orders are not narrowly tailored or rationally related to the government’s asserted interest, they cannot stand.
This lawsuit was filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of California seeking declaratory and injunctive relief.