News & Commentary United States

California to Pay More Than $2 Million in Church Legal Fees Over Forced Closures

The Thomas More Society applauded the settlement, saying "religious liberty triumphs."

The state of California has agreed to pay more than $2 million in church legal fees for attorneys who challenged the state’s lockdown measures as a violation of religious freedom.

Lawyers for the Thomas More Society, a conservative publish interest law firm, will receive $2,150,000 after the state agreed to pay $1.6 million in attorney fees to settle a lawsuit with South Bay United Pentecostal Church, and $550,000 in fees to settle a lawsuit filed by Catholic priest, Trevor Burfitt.

In a June 1 injunction, U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant, prohibited Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state officers from “issuing or enforcing regulations” against houses of worship in response to the pandemic.

The Thomas More Society applauded the settlement, saying “religious liberty triumphs.”

“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,” said Thomas More Society special counsel Paul Jonna.

“Restrictions on churches cannot be more severe than restrictions on retail. We are pleased with the final results in these two important cases.”

At present, the firm is continuing to prosecute and defend cases on behalf of Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church. Later this month, the Los Angeles Supreme Court will hear the Thomas More Society’s motion to dissolve an unconstitutional preliminary injunction entered against the church.