US Supreme Court denies interim relief to South Bay United Pentecostal Church
“The Supreme Court’s opinion is procedural in nature, narrow in scope. The court simply chose not to grant temporary relief on an emergency motion. Religious freedom means more than treating churches like secular businesses. The church in this case—and, indeed, the vast majority of churches—agreed to abide by the same social distancing and hygiene standards set for others. The church simply asked to be treated the same as comparable secular businesses, which is the bare minimum that the First Amendment’s free exercise clause requires. The court’s opinion is not the final word on the issue. We fully expect other cases where our fundamental freedoms are at stake to make their way back to the Supreme Court on a more fully developed record.
“We support government leaders’ efforts to prioritize the public’s health and safety, but people of faith should be free to assemble as others are. In addition to California, many states are implementing rules that are inconsistent and burdensome to religious groups. If people can be trusted to comply with social distancing and other health guidelines at offices, restaurants, and factories, there is no reason they cannot be trusted in religious settings.”
Ryan Tucker serves as senior counsel and director of the Center for Christian Ministries with Alliance Defending Freedom. He oversees all litigation efforts to maintain and defend the constitutionally protected freedom of churches, Christian ministries and religious schools to exercise their rights under the First Amendment. Prior to joining ADF, Tucker engaged in private practice for over 16 years with a litigation boutique law firm in San Antonio, Texas, eight of those as a partner. His portfolio included all aspects of civil litigation, both state and federal, with a particular focus on commercial and complex business disputes. Tucker earned his Juris Doctor at Baylor Law School, where he was a senior editor of the Baylor Law Review. He obtained his bachelor of business administration in management at Texas A&M University, where he graduated cum laude. A member of the state bar in Texas and Arizona, Tucker is admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court and multiple federal district and appellate courts.