California's plan to reopen the state "discriminates" against churches, according to a letter from the Justice Department.
In the letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom Tuesday, the department wrote that it had concerns regarding when the state planned to allow churches to resume in-person services. Under the state's four-phase plan, services would not be allowed until phase three.
The department is asking the state to consider allowing those services to resume in phase two, since restaurants, manufacturing businesses and offices will be allowed to reopen during that phase.
The DOJ wrote: "California has not shown why interactions in offices and studios of the entertainment industry, and in-person operations to facilitate nonessential ecommerce, are included on the list as being allowed with social distancing where telework is not practical, while gatherings with social distancing for purposes of religious worship are forbidden.”
Multiple media outlets report that Newsom's office confirmed it received the letter, but it has not commented publicly on it.
In April, Attorney General William Barr sent a memo to federal prosecutors, asking them to be on the lookout for COVID-19 restrictions "that could be violating the constitutional rights and civil liberties of individual citizens."
The DOJ has already backed up one lawsuit filed against the state of Mississippi by a church that says it wasn't allowed to hold drive-in services.
Contains footage from CNN.