John MacArthur reaches $800,000 settlement with California and LA County in Covid dispute

John MacArthur(Photo: YouTube/Grace Community Church)

A long-running dispute between John MacArthur, the state of California and Los Angeles County over Covid-19 lockdown rules appears finally to be at an end.

LA County and California will each pay $400,000 in legal fees to MacArthur's Grace Community Church, in Sun Valley. 

Lawyers for LA County told The Los Angeles Daily News that the decision reflected recent Supreme Court rulings against some Covid-19 public health measures for places of worship.

"After the US Supreme Court ruled that some public health safety measures could not apply to houses of worship, resolving this litigation is the responsible and appropriate thing to do," they said.

"From the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Los Angeles County has been committed to protecting the health and safety of its residents.

"We are grateful to the county's faith organizations for their continued partnership to keep their congregants and the entire community safe and protected from Covid-19."

In April, the Supreme Court said California's restrictions on churches were unlawful.

"[G]overnment 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," the judgment said.

California responded to the judgment by announcing that public health orders relating to location and attendance caps were "not mandatory but are strongly recommended." 

MacArthur has been vocal in his opposition to Covid-19 lockdown rules, moving last summer to sue California over a ban on indoor worship services.

His legal counsel, Jenna Ellis of the Thomas More Society, welcomed the settlement.

She said in a statement, "We are very pleased to see Pastor MacArthur and Grace Community Church's First Amendment protections fully vindicated in this case.

"It has been a hard-fought battle to preserve religious liberty and we hope that this result will encourage Californians, and all Americans, to continue to stand firm that church is essential."