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Tandon v. Newsom (Supreme Court of the United States, April 9, 2021): The Supreme Court overturned a 9th Circuit decision upholding California’s COVID-19 restriction barring the meeting of more than 3 families to worship in a private home as violating the First Amendment free exercise clause. In its Per Curiam Opinion, the Court determined that treating “any comparable secular activity more favorably than religious exercise” triggers strict scrutiny under the First Amendment. Comparability is determined based on “the risks various activities pose, not the reasons why people gather.” Justice Kagan, joined by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor, dissented, concluding that California’s blanket restriction of all at-home gatherings exceeding 3 households, whether for religious or secular bases, did not violate the First Amendment. The dissenters explained that the Court seems to require like treatment of unlike activities (i.e., treating at-home religious gatherings the same as hardware stores and hair salons). Read the full Opinion here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – April 15, 2021.

View all cases under “Constitutional Rights & the Public’s Health.”