SANTA CLARA COUNTY – The California Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned the Santa Clara County ruling. petition for reinstatement A San Jose church has been fined more than $200,000 in contempt of court for defying public health orders during the pandemic.
As a result, the Sixth District Court of Appeal dominate Issued in the summer. The ruling reversed the fines for court orders issued in December 2020 and his February 2021, and reversed the contempt charges.
In the first year of the pandemic, the Santa Clara County Superior Court ordered Calvary Chapel to stop holding indoor services where congregants weren’t wearing masks, following social distancing orders and singing songs. issued a cease and desist order to the county. All of these violate public health requirements. at the time.
Calvary Chapel, a non-denominational Christian church of 3,000 members, flouted the injunction and was charged with contempt of court and ultimately fined $217,500.
In a unanimous judgment on August 15, the Court of Appeals cited a series of 2021 U.S. Supreme Court rulings that favored religious freedom over local health guidelines.
“From these decisions, if a pandemic-related public health order banning indoor gatherings has the effect of banning indoor worship services, the order is not neutral and generally applicable if the public health order permits. I understand that the U.S. Supreme Court has determined that other types of indoor secular activities are prohibited, even though secular indoor gatherings are also prohibited.
The order Calvary Chapel was accused of violating did not apply to bus stations, airports, grocery stores, restaurants, office buildings, or retail stores.
In its complaint, the county argued that the Court of Appeals had completely exempted the church from fines by interpreting only one of its capacity limit violations as unconstitutional.
The county argued that the church had violated multiple public health orders, such as wearing masks, and should be held liable for contempt of court.
Greenwood notes that the High Court did not impose “individual fines” for any of the offenses, writing an opinion that “instead, it imposed a single comprehensive penalty.” .
The legal battle between the county and the church began in the summer of 2020, when Calvary Chapel filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming that a local public health order violated the church’s right to hold services.
The county then sued the church in state court, arguing that Calvary Chapel violated local public health orders and owed nearly $3 million in fines. Lawsuits are ongoing.
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https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2022/11/30/san-jose-church-wont-have-to-pay-pandemic-related-contempt-of-court-fines/ San Jose church won’t have to pay pandemic-related contempt of court fines