Sunday, May 17, 2020

Louisiana Limits On Church Services Upheld

In Spell v. Edwards(MD LA, May 15, 2020), a Louisiana federal district court upheld the validity of the Louisiana governor's COVID-19 restrictions on church services.The court said in part:
At the core of their argument, Plaintiffs submit that their congregation “is a large assembly of more than 2,000 individuals” whose religious beliefs require them to assemble for church in person.... Additionally, Plaintiff Spell avers that he is imbued with a “duty to lay hands on the sick and pray for them so that they may become well,” which, along with holy communion and the love offering, would lose meaning absent a public gathering.... 
The Court finds that there is a substantial relationship between the occupancy limitations in the Governor’s orders and the current severe public health crisis. Such restrictions are directly intended to limit the contact-based spread of COVID-19. Additionally, like the law at issue in Jacobson, Proclamation No. 52 JBE 2020 is not a complete ban on Plaintiffs’ rights as alleged by Plaintiffs. Under the terms of the order, Plaintiffs have been free to hold outdoor services with as many congregants as they would like and nothing in the orders proscribes, inhibits or regulates the content of their religious speech. Plaintiffs have always been free to fully exercise their rights to assembly, although for smaller numbers of congregants.
(See prior related posting).