By Duncan Smith
A federal appeals court has tossed a lawsuit that sought to overturn California Gov. Gavin Newson’s ban on in-person religious services because COVID-19 is simply too deadly to allow full recognition of the Constitution.
In a 2-1 decision, the oft-overturned 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a lawsuit filed by the South Bay United Pentecostal Church in San Diego challenging the ban on the grounds that a health emergency supersedes citizens’ rights to assemble and worship freely.
“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 judges wrote.
“We’re dealing with a highly contagious and often fatal disease for which there presently is no cure,” the added.
The fact is, coronavirus may be ‘highly contagious’ but it’s not ‘often deadly.’ In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency’s “best estimate” implies the death rate is below 0.3 percent, far less than the earlier models predicting “millions” would die unless we shut down modern life.
Also, there are no caveats in the Constitution stating that the rights recognized and protected therein are only valid when there is no health emergency. Indeed, the framers recognized “certain inalienable rights” in the Constitution — rights that aren’t granted by government, so they can’t be taken away by government.
Finally, perhaps the ‘freedom of religion’ argument alone isn’t enough. The same First Amendment contains a provision that freedom of assembly is also guaranteed, not to be rescinded during emergencies.
The 9th Circus, as it has often been called, is one of the most routinely overturned dockets by the Supreme Court. Here’s hoping that this case gets overturned by the justices so that the next time a Democrat governor claims the authority to override the U.S. Constitution, he or she will be slapped down by precedence.
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