May 22, 2021
Earlier this week, a California federal district court approved the settlement of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry’s lawsuit against Gov. Gavin Newsom. The agreement establishes the first state-wide permanent injunction in the country against COVID restrictions on churches and houses of worship.
The Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit religious rights law firm, brought the challenge on behalf of Harvest Rock.
Under the settlement, discriminatory restrictions on worship and religious gatherings may no longer be applied to churches and places of worship.
The governor must also pay Liberty Counsel $1,350,000 to reimburse attorney’s fees and costs. Newsom is the first governor in the U.S. to be reprimanded so harshly on this issue, being ordered to obey a permanent injunction on behalf of houses of worship.
The settlement cites several Supreme Court opinions, including Harvest Rock Church v. Newsom, that reference a long list of similar nonreligious activities the Supreme Court set forth as comparable gatherings. While the state allowed activity at grocery stores, warehouses, big box stores, transportation, and more, Newsom unconstitutionally shut down religious activities and church gatherings.