California to pay $2M church legal fees over virus closures

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LOS ANGELES — The state of California has agreed not to impose greater coronavirus restrictions on church gatherings than it does on retail establishments in a pair of settlements that provide more than $2 million in fees to lawyers who challenged the rules as a violation of religious freedom. A deal approved Tuesday by a federal judge comes after lawyers for a San Diego-area Pentecostal church took their challenge against the state to the U.S. Supreme Court three times and won. The settlement includes a permanent injunction in line with Supreme Court rulings that found restrictions on houses of worship cannot exceed those on retail businesses, attorney Paul Jonna said. “If they're gonna restrict Costco to 50%, then they can do the same thing to churches,” Jonna said. “But
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