California Pays $2.1 Million to Churches

“Attorneys with the Thomas More Society recently secured settlements in two major cases: South Bay United Pentecostal Church, et al. v. Newsom, et al. and Father Trevor Burfitt v. Newsom, et al. In both cases, the State of California agreed to enter into permanent injunctions that prohibit the State from ever again imposing discriminatory restrictions on all houses of worship statewide. In addition, the State of California agreed to pay $2,150,000 in ‘prevailing party’ attorneys’ fees to settle both cases ($1,600,000 in South Bay and $550,000 in Burfitt). Thomas More Society Special Counsel Charles LiMandri and Paul Jonna, partners at LiMandri & Jonna LLP, both expressed satisfaction with the resolutions. According to LiMandri, ‘The South Bay case represents an unprecedented three trips to the United States 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.’ Jonna stated that ‘The settlement terms in these cases track the United States 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. 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 allowed, said Christopher Ferrara of the Thomas More Society.”

“Religious Liberty Triumphs,” Thomas More Society