The State of California agreed to enter into permanent injunctions that prohibit the State from imposing discriminatory restrictions on all houses of worship statewide and also agreed to pay $2,150,000 in attorneys’ fees to settle two religious liberty cases.
The settlements, secured by attorneys for the Thomas More Society, resolve the cases they brought on behalf of South Bay United Pentecostal Church and Father Trevor Burfitt against Democratic California Gavin Newsom.
Thomas More Society Special Counsel Charles LiMandri and Paul Jonna, who are partners at LiMandri & Jonna LLP, praised the resolutions.
“The South Bay case represents an unprecedented three trips to the U.S. Supreme Court in a one-year period, which resulted in a landmark decision that opened up the churches in California for 40 million people. The permanent injunctions in these cases uphold and protect one of the most cherished principles of our republic: the free exercise of religion,” LiMandri said in a statement to The Daily Wire.
“The settlement terms in these cases track the U.S. Supreme Court’s seminal holding in South Bay v. Newsom, and the basic constitutional principle is simple and now cemented into permanent statewide injunctions: restrictions on churches cannot be more severe than restrictions on retail. We are pleased with the final results in these two important cases,” said Jonna.
According to the Thomas More Society, “other attorneys who played key roles in securing the victories in both South Bay and Burfitt include Jeffrey Trissell of LiMandri & Jonna LLP and Christopher A. Ferrara of the Thomas More Society, who was the lead counsel on the Burfitt matter.”
“The injunction in Burfitt was the first of its kind in the country, anticipating what the Supreme Court would later hold definitively: that houses of worship must receive the same treatment as the most favored secular comparators. If favored businesses are allowed 100% occupancy during a pandemic, so must churches be,” Ferrara said.
Thomas More Society attorneys LiMandri, Jonna, and Jenna Ellis continue to seek similar resolutions on behalf of Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church.
Newsom was also recently ordered by a federal judge to pay a $1.35 million settlement in his capacity as governor to Harvest Rock Church of Pasadena, California.