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SCOTUS: California Must Allow In-Home Religious Gatherings

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The petitioners are a pastor and group of worshipers who hold services in their home because of coronavirus restrictions. They asked for an injunction reversing the lower federal courts and blocking California Gov. Gavin Newsom while this case is on appeal.

Earlier in 2020, faith leaders protested Newsom’s lockdowns on indoor worship. Later in the year, Newsom ignored a Supreme Court order and doubled down on his lockdowns regarding indoor religious gatherings.

The lower courts, including the Ninth Circuit, ruled against these home-church worshipers. According to the court majority, this is “the fifth time the Court has summarily rejected the Ninth Circuit’s analysis of California’s coronavirus restrictions on religious exercise.”

In an order from the court, the five conservative justices on the court voted to grant the injunction. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the three liberals on the court to deny the injunction sought by the church.

In this opinion, no single justice is credited as the author, so it is a per curiam opinion.

The court majority explained its ruling under the following terms:

First, government regulations are not neutral and generally applicable, and therefore trigger strict scrutiny under the Free Exercise Clause, whenever they treat any comparable secular activity more favorably than religious exercise.

It is no answer that a State treats some comparable secular businesses or other activities as poorly as or even less favorably than the religious exercise at issue.

Second, whether two activities are comparable for purposes of the Free Exercise Clause must be judged against the asserted government interest that justifies the regulation at issue.

Comparability is concerned with the risks various activities pose, not the reasons why people gather.

Where the government permits other activities to proceed with precautions, it must show that the religious exercise at issue is more dangerous than those activities even when the same precautions are applied. Otherwise, precautions that suffice for other activities suffice for religious exercise too.

California treats some comparable secular activities more favorably than at-home religious exercise, permitting hair salons, retail stores, personal care services, movie theaters, private suites at sporting events and concerts, and indoor restaurants to bring together more than three households at a time.

The State cannot assume the worst when people go to worship but assume the best when people go to work.

The application is Tandon v. Newsom, No. 20A151 in the Supreme Court of the United States.

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US Chamber of Commerce Urges Biden to End Pandemic Benefits: ‘Paying People Not to Work’ Killing Recovery

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce called on the White House to end expanded federal unemployment benefits that were implemented during last year’s pandemic relief efforts, saying the extra monthly payments are hurting the economy by keeping workers out of the labor market. On Friday, the Department of Labor reported just 266,000 new jobs created in April, which is far lower than the 1 million jobs that were expected by some analysts. Now, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the largest business lobbying groups, said that it’s “clear that paying people not to work is dampening what should be a stronger jobs market” and argued that the $300 weekly extra payments are keeping people from working. “We need a comprehensive approach to dealing with our workforce issues and the very real threat unfilled positions poses to our economic recovery from the pandemic,” said the group’s executive vice president, Neil Bradley. “One …Read More

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GOP Rep. Cammack Details How Cartels Are Using Facebook to Smuggle Illegal Immigrants — ‘It’s Absolutely Nuts’

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Friday on FNC’s “Fox & Friends,” Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL) discussed her recent letter scolding Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for allowing human smugglers and cartels to “openly” operate on the social media platform.

Cammack said while visiting the border, she found a “disturbing trend” from immigrants that they coordinated the logistics of entering the United States illegally through Facebook.

“It’s wild. It is absolutely unconscionable to think that it is happening,” Cammack emphasized. “But I have got to tell you my very first border trip we had just gotten to the Donna processing facility, and there was a busload of very young children and parents with children under the age of six. And I spoke to a 15-year-old girl. I said, where are you from? She said Guatemala. I said, how did you know to come here? And she said Facebook. I hadn’t been but five minutes in the Donna processing facility when I heard the term Facebook. And as I went through the facility, I kept hearing from kids, from adults — Facebook. Yes. We coordinated logistics through Facebook. We paid through Facebook. We talked on WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook. And it was a disturbing trend. And when I started talking with HSI and some of the Border Patrol agents, they themselves have seen this firsthand.”

She continued, “I figured hey, I’m a millennial, I’m pretty savvy with Facebook. I will do a quick search. And just this morning, you know, at 6:00, as I’m sitting down to do this interview with you guys, I pull up Viaje a Estados Unidos. And, lo and behold, a page with directions, with routes, prices — six grand to come to the United States, $9,300 to get to San Antonio. It takes a simple search of ‘get to the frontera,’ and that is all it takes to find out exactly who to pay, how to get here, and how you’re going to get smuggled across. And they even talk about in these ads how you can take a six-year-old or under, or if you are a single adult, what they dual to help get you across. It’s absolutely nuts.”

According to Cammack, Facebook profited from ads for pages promoting how to cross the border while at the same time silencing conservative pages.

“Instead of targeting conservatives, maybe we should focus on the cartels instead, right?” she posed to Facebook.

Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent

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April Job Numbers Are So Bad, CNBC Thought It Was A Typo

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The economy still remains 8.2 million jobs short of pre-lockdown levels after the April jobs report published Friday signaled a slow, long road to recovery.

Only 266,000 jobs were added last month, far below the estimated million forecasters predicted. Unemployment was expecting to go down, not up, as it did to 6.1 percent while the government continues to dole out generous benefits to incentivize Netflix and couch surfing over a paycheck.

The April jobs numbers were so low, CNBC’s Steve Liesman appeared to believe there may have been a typo on air.

“It looks like 266,000. It looks like it was a big disappointment at 266, but maybe I have that wrong,” Liesman said, before confirming the number on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. “Yes, 266 is correct … We have some issues here.”

The low numbers follow several months of disappointing jobs figures as employers struggle to recruit laid-off staff who earn just as much, if not more, in government unemployment benefits. According to the Wall Street Journal, more job openings exist this spring than did in the days leading up to the pandemic.

Job growth only averaged 524,000 per month over the last three months presenting an ominous sign a full recovery will be slow.

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