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Tandon v. Newsom, South Bay Pentecostal, Diocese of Brooklyn, and Calvary Chapel on Religious Liberty and the Pandemic

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On January 6, 2020, a headline in The New York Times read, “China Grapples with Mystery Pneumonia-Like Illness” and reported that “59 people in the central city of Wuhan” have been sickened by the illness, “the cause of which is unclear.” Within a few months, the World Health Organization had proclaimed COVID-19 a global “pandemic.” In the United States, and around the world, schools moved online, stores and restaurants were shuttered, travelers scrambled to return home, major sports and other events were canceled, beaches and parks were closed, and gatherings tightly restricted.

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  1. 1.

    Sui-Lee Wee and Vivian Wang, “China Grapples with Mystery Pneumonia-Like Illness,” The New York Times, 6 January 2020.

  2. 2.

    World Health Organization, “WHO Director-General’s Opening Remarks at the Media Briefing on COVID-19,” 11 March 2020.

  3. 3.

    Stefanie Dazio and Robert Jablon, “California Lays Out Pandemic Rules for Church Reopenings,” Associated Press, 27 May 2020.

  4. 4.

    Nevada Declaration of Emergency Directive 021, section 11, 28 May 2020.

  5. 5.

    Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.68, 6 October 2020.

  6. 6.

    Maryville Baptist Church v. Beshear, 957 F.3d 610 (6th Cir. 2020) at 611.

  7. 7.

    Rev. Pete McCormick, C.S.C., Letter to the Notre Dame Community, 4 March 2020.

  8. 8.

    See Josh Blackman, “The ‘Essential’ Free Exercise Clause,” 44 Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy 637 (2021) at 645. Prof. Blackman’s article includes a detailed review of the relevant cases and decisions.

  9. 9.

    See Will Baude, “Foreword: The Supreme Court’s Shadow Docket,” NYU Journal of Law & Liberty 9 (2015): 1. Rather than issuing an opinion written by one specific Justice, brief orders in response to a request to enjoin (halt) a government action are often issued by the Court as per curiam, or unsigned, opinions from the Court as a whole, though individual Justices can still issue dissenting opinions.

  10. 10.

    South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom (2020), Chief Justice Roberts concurrence at 2.

  11. 11.


  12. 12.

    Kavanaugh dissent, page 1.

  13. 13.

    Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley v. Sisolak Alito dissent at 3–4.

  14. 14.

    Ibid. at 1.

  15. 15.

    Kavanaugh dissent at 3.

  16. 16.

    Ibid. at 5, citing Douglas Laycock, “The Remnants of Free Exercise,” Supreme Court Review (1990) at 49–50.

  17. 17.

    Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo per curiam decision at 1 and 5.

  18. 18.

    Sotomayor dissent at 3.

  19. 19.

    Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley v. Sisolak, 982 F. 3d 1228 (9th Cir. 2020) at 1232.

  20. 20.

    See Blackman supra at 727. The Court ruled along the same lines in a factually similar case, on the same day, in Harvest Rock Church, Inc. v. Newsom.

  21. 21.

    South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom (2021), Kagan dissent, pages 1 and 5.

  22. 22.

    Chief Justice Roberts concurrence at 2.

  23. 23.

    Kagan dissent at 1.

  24. 24.

    Tandon v. Newsom per curiam, pages 1, 3.

  25. 25.

    See Chapter 7 on Fulton v. Philadelphia.

  26. 26.

    Fulton v. Philadelphia decision at 6.

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Correspondence to Mitchell Koppinger .

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Garnett, R.W., Koppinger, M. (2022). Tandon v. Newsom, South Bay Pentecostal, Diocese of Brooklyn, and Calvary Chapel on Religious Liberty and the Pandemic. In: Marietta, M. (eds) SCOTUS 2021. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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