Federal appeals court upholds California’s ban on church services

May 24, 2020

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday against a church in Chula Vista’s legal attempt to overturn the state’s ban on in-person church services.

According to the lawsuit, Gov. Gavin Newsom violated the church’s First Amendment rights by baring church services through his stay-at-home order. In a 2-1 decision, the court ruled the ban on gatherings did not violate the church’s First Amendment rights.

“Where state action does not ‘infringe upon or restrict practices because of their religious motivation’ and does not ‘in a selective manner impose burdens only on conduct motivated by religious belief,’ it does not violate the First Amendment,” the ruling said.

Primarily divided along political lines, from President Donald Trump to San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow, many Republicans have asked that in-person religious services can resume.

On the other side, Newsom and many liberal officials argue against allowing in-person church services because of the risks of spreading the coronavirus at large confined gatherings.

Of the three appellate judges, the two appointed by Democratic presidents ruled against the church’s appeal, while the judge appointed by Trump ruled in favor of the church’s request.


The government May only restrict the rights of citizens if it can meet the burden of showing that if the rights are not restricted, then the result would pose a imminent and serious risk to the public. This is the due process standard, and the appeals court is absolutely wrong with their ruling. First of all, The idea that a virus with a fatality rate of less than .5% is considered a deadly virus is ridiculous. Even if that is deemed deadly by some, there is still the issue of the government proving that this virus will be spread by people going to church. The idea that something “might” happen is not proving that it will. I will never surrender my rights based on the idea of something “might” happening.

Some say it’s selfish, but I prefer that you have your rights, and I have my rights, and fear doesn’t warrant either of us having those rights taken away. You are free to surrender your rights and live in fear, but you don’t get to surrender my rights on my behalf. It is so disgusting of an idea that the constitution forbids it. So, now, the government has managed to side step due process, and anytime there is a perceived danger in the future, it can simply take our rights away for the greater good? Who establishes what constitutes a danger? Who determines the greater good? To all who feel that our rights are the property of the government, and can be taken away for the greater good, I say this: there will be a point somewhere in the future when this sort of thing happens again, but you won’t agree with the government, because all it takes now is someone else wielding the Power, and you will find yourself in a situation that you allowed to happen. Because you allowed and agreed this time, you have given the green light for this sort of thing to occur whenever someone else in power chooses to execute the same actions, and you will understand at that point just why people like me are so upset about what has happened. Just because you go along with this case, doesn’t mean you will like the next one, but you won’t be able to do anything about it, as the damage has already been done. We surrender our rights at our own peril, despite the perceived danger. We are capable of ensuring our own safety, and the idea that there was not even a moments discussion of how to deal with this virus other than to immediately strip us all of our rights is the thing that is so disturbing. Was there really no other possible way to mitigate this virus other than to take our rights away? That was the only possible way? Wow!, talk about an arrogant leadership. Sort of shows you just how little the superior humans that we elected to represent us think of us doesn’t it? Guidelines and recommendations weren’t enough, because we are just too dumb to follow them, it was necessary to force us to comply by taking our rights away and using the full force of our government to ensure we didn’t attempt to live our lives and earn a living. To me, running my business is essential, but to you, it isn’t? Gee, thank you for watching out for me, I feel so much safer now that my income is gone, I’m months behind in my mortgage, and I will unlikely be able to recover, so I had to lay off the people who worked for me, and the domino effect will continue for years. All for a virus with a survival rate of well in excess of 99%. Seems totally reasonable to me, thank you again for keeping me safe! Thank god for the second amendment, it is the only thing keeping what’s left of the bill of rights in tact, but I’m sure the next imminent threat will be guns, so get ready for that. Don’t worry though, we will all comply, and I will give mine up. I’ll start with my ammunition, and I will surrender it one round at a time. If you want to surrender your rights and live in fear as a coward, you can do that. Unfortunately, I won’t allow you to try and force me to do the same.


I just hope all the restrictions are lifted by July 4th so we can celebrate our FREEDOM.

Oh, the irony.


It may very well be that some faiths need not gather for their worship? I really don’t know. But for Catholic and Orthodox Christians, the celebration of our typical Sunday sacrificial liturgies requires an ordained priest or bishop. That means gathering, which typically takes place inside of a church. There is no way around that, no matter how incredulous it might sound to others.

It is during the celebration of these sacrificial liturgies that Catholic and Orthodox Christians experience the absolute fullness of their Christian faiths. It really doesn’t matter what others think. It has been gravely wrong to restrict us from our parish churches. I expect to be attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in SLO County within 2 weeks from today.

Thank you, Mr. Dow.


This is an attack against religion, pure and simple. Thank God we have an honorable man like Dan Dow in office here. We can meet without fear of prosecution.


In California, big box stores & grocery stores have been allowed to stay open for the last 2 months with no reports of outbreaks. No so-called “super spreaders” have been identified here in SLO County. It absolutely makes no sense that churches and small retailers have been shuttered.

Church congregations could easily stop shaking hands, enact social distancing, temporarily limit # of attendees…but nope. Gavin has spoken and we must obey.


Yes, exactly,

Open up America with mitigation.

It’s not all or nothing, “on or off,” there is ample grey area for opening safely. Unfortunately, this discussion at both the local and national level has degenerated into an oversimplified binary choice along political lines.

It’s a shame really


How appropriate by these two lefty judges to rule against religion before Memorial Day. This is slap in the face to all the American men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedom and right worship.


Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes argued in an early 20th century Supreme Court case that the first amendment did not apply to speech which presented a “clear and present danger” to American citizens. He used the “can’t yell fire in a crowded theatre” as an example of free speech which should not be tolerated. In this case, I’m afraid that by opening churches we are putting citizens in harm’s way—not only those who attend services but all those who come into contact with these worshippers—so I agree with the 9th Circuit’s decision.


Wrong, your example of yelling “fire” has nothing to do with the point you presented.


The Ninth Circus is the most reversed appellate court. Rights cases are not dependent upon WHY some government abridges them, only that it does. Nuff said.

kevin rise

Very valid Commenter I agree but, they have done some good work though, ie, upholding basic constitutional rights to freely live, which was criminal in CA if you had no home up until 2 years ago, ie, calling being homeless “camping”, was abolished; with all the social ramifications good and bad.

kevin rise

I see and agree with your point, this is and was a federal guideline and international standard. It is odd as to what was deemed essential though and how to go about socializing, which was extremely half assed given what federal mandates and states want. Other countries try and tried heard immunity before vaccine with mixed results. Who the heck really knows, I dont in this world truth vs money.

Mitch C

If you cannot see the handwriting on the wall, you better pay attention. This whole thing is about power and control. Why can Walmart and Target be open while small mom and pop shops that carry some of the same items cannot. Vote for a Democrat and you are voting away your freedom, your future and your constitutional rights. You have lost your right to go to church but you can still get an abortion, have a tattoo, or visit a liquor store.

The rules as they exist don’t make sense: social distancing would be better handled in a mom and pop store or a church than they are at large store like Walmart. Visit your local big box store and you will have to agree that social distancing and wearing a mask is hap hazard at best.

Your freedom is being stolen, it’s your future, vote like your future depends on it because it does.


Excellent post!


We were forewarned, ” Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined. ” _ Patrick Henry


To your point, and to expand a bit more…not only is your future the emphasis, but every single American has the duty to ensure that the core values of this nation exist for future generations to enjoy. It is the cost of being privileged enough to be an American. That duty is essential, and we also have a debt to all who fought to ensure that the privilege of being American existed for us to enjoy. If people think that being American is a free ride, then this will come as a shock, but every American is expected to honor his or her duty. This nation is so incredible, that millions continue to try and be a part of it to this day. What other country in the world has so many people trying to become a part of it? That sort of shows just how amazing it is to be an American. To think that people would so easily surrender their natural rights is honestly a very sad thing.