How The Briefing Schedule Stole Christmas!
On December 3, hours after the Court GVR’d Harvest Rock, the Governor of California implemented a new framework that would permit the complete prohibition on indoor worship. With three weeks to go till Christmas, certainly the District Courts and Ninth Circuit could promptly and expeditiously decide these cases before December 25–especially after another Ninth Circuit panel held that Diocese effected a “seismic shift in Free Exercise law.” But ’tis the season for leisurely briefing schedules.
Let’s start with the never-ending Harvest Rock litigation. The District Court took more than two weeks to deny a Temporary Restraining Order. The same day that the TRO was denied, the Church sought an injunction pending appeal. Now, the Ninth Circuit has issued a briefing schedule:
The court has received appellants’ emergency motion for injunction pending appeal. The response to the motion is due at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time on December 28, 2020. The optional reply in support of the motion is due at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time on December 29, 2020.
Maybe we’ll get a ruling by New Year. Judge O’Scannlain dissented, in part, from the order:
Although I have no objection to the briefing schedule set forth in the court’s order, I strongly object to our failure to accommodate, even in a temporary fashion, Harvest Rock Church’s request for relief from California’s severe restrictions on indoor worship services by December 24.
The requested deadline is hardly arbitrary: The church seeks immediate action from our court so that its members can worship on Christmas Day, one of the most sacred holy days in the Christian calendar. And it is not the church’s fault that it finds itself in this predicament. The church moved f
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