Tandon v. Newsom

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: First Amendment
  • Date Filed: April 9, 2021
  • Case #: 20A151
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Per curium. THE CHIEF JUSTICE would deny the application. JUSTICE KAGAN, with whom JUSTICE BREYER and JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR join, dissenting.
  • Full Text Opinion

Even if the government withdraws or modifies a COVID restriction in the course of litigation, that does not necessarily moot the case. And so long as a case is not moot, litigants otherwise entitled to emergency injunctive relief remain entitled to such relief where the applicants “remain under a constant threat” that government officials will use their power to reinstate the challenged restrictions.

Petitioners filed an emergency application for injunction requesting to be allowed to hold Bible studies, prayer meetings, and worship services at their homes despite COVID-related restrictions imposed by California.  The District Court for the Northern District of California denied petitioners’ motion for a preliminary injunction and subsequently denied petitioners’ motion for an injunction pending appeal. The Ninth Circuit also denied petitioners’ motion for an injunction pending appeal. The Supreme Court held that “[t]he Ninth Circuit’s failure to grant an injunction pending appeal was erroneous.” According to the Court, “[petitioners] are likely to succeed on the merits of their free exercise claim; they are irreparably harmed by the loss of free exercise rights ‘for even minimal periods of time’; and the State has not shown that ‘public health would be imperiled’ by employing less restrictive measures.” Therefore, the Court held that petitioners are “entitled to an injunction pending appeal.”

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