May 8, 2020—Today, the Center for American Liberty in coordination with Limandri & Jonna, Thomas More Society, and the Dhillon Law Group, filed a lawsuit on before of South Bay United Pentecostal Church, Bishop Arthur Hodges III, and Rabbi Mendel Polichenco challenging the constitutionality of shutting down houses of worship across the state.
This action presents both a facial and as-applied challenge to Governor’s Newsom’s March 19, 2020, Executive Order N-33-20; his April 28, 2020, Essential Workforce memorandum; the May 7, 2020, Resilience Roadmap, and various San Diego Orders.
On May 7, 2020, Governor Newsom published his Resilience Roadmap. In it, retail, manufacturing, schools, childcare, offices, and some hospitality entities will be allowed to reopen during “stage 2.” Attending a religious service at a house of worship is a criminal act during this time. Houses of worship cannot reopen until stage 3.
“Based on the Governor’s words and actions, the faith community in California has no reason to believe that they will be able to gather together—in obedience to their faith—in the foreseeable future,” said Harmeet K. Dhillon, Chief Executive Officer of the Center for American Liberty. “The Governor has been clear; he plans to keep houses of worship shut down for the duration of the pandemic. We may never develop a vaccine for this virus. Closing houses of worship in perpetuity denies Californians the inherit human dignity endowed by their Creator and protected by the Constitution.”
“We cannot tolerate houses of worship being treated like second…or third tier entities in California. For people of faith, obedience to their faith is as important, if not more important, than eating. The Governor’s discriminatory treatment of houses of worship is shameful,” concluded Dhillon.
The Center for American Liberty is also representing pastors and church goers in Gish v.Newsomand in Abiding Place Ministries v. Wooton—challenging restrictions on the free exercise of religion. Both cases are currently before the Ninth Circuit.