The California Supreme Court rejected the city’s request to make the church pay more than $200,000 for violating COVID-19 limitations.
Calvary Chapel San Jose was ordered last week by Santa Clara County to pay $217,500 in fines for breaking COVID-19 rules at the height of the pandemic, but the California Supreme Court rejected this request.
Mariah Gondeiro, an attorney for Calvary Chapel, stated, “We are happy the California Supreme Court chose not to take up the matter.” “We are quite confident in our ability to hold the county responsible for its unlawful public health instructions through a federal lawsuit.”
In 2020 and 2021, the church and its pastors were fined and held in contempt of court for disobeying COVID-19 limits on in-person worship services, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In August this year, California’s 6th Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision and ruled in favor of the church.
As Christian Headlines previously reported, the appellate court cited Supreme Court decisions made in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo (2020) and Tandon v. Newsom (2021), in which the court ruled that state-level restrictions on in-person gatherings at houses of worship during COVID-19 were unconstitutional.
Additionally, last week’s ruling by the state’s highest court decertified the August ruling, meaning that legal challengers will be unable to use it in the future.
“We’re very pleased that the 6th District’s decision has been de-published,” Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams said. “It validates our concerns that it was a legally erroneous decision.”
Gondiero, who represents Advocates for Faith & Freedom, claimed that the state’s court decision is consistent with decisions upholding religious freedom as viewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
According to Gondiero, “I think we have a very religious-friendly Supreme Court,” according to the East Bay Times. “And we’re starting to notice that across the nation.” They are aware of where the Supreme Court sits on religious freedom.
Williams claims that the ruling from last week was both a partial win and a partial loss.
He said, “I’m upset that they didn’t look at the petition.” But because the judgment was ordered to be taken down, it can no longer be mentioned. The rule of law will no longer be impacted. I believe that message was sent by the California Supreme Court.