Thursday, December 24, 2020

1st Circuit: Church's Appeal of TRO Denial Is Dismissed

 In Calvary Chapel of Bangor v. Mills, (1st Cir., Dec. 22, 2020), the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a church's interlocutory appeal of the district court's denial of a temporary restraining order against enforcement of the Maine governor's COVID Orders that prohibited the gathering of more than ten people for faith-based events. The court concluded that denial of a temporary restraining order-- before the district court rules on a preliminary injunction request-- here is not appealable, even though both parties contended that this case fell within an exception to that rule.  The court said in part:

The Chapel contends that the district court's decision to deny it a temporary restraining order functionally precluded any possibility of a preliminary injunction. This contention elevates hope over reason....

... [T]he absence of immediate appealability — like the denial of the temporary restraining order itself — will not cause serious harm. Given the gravity of the situation and the fact that events remained in flux, we discern no sufficient basis for finding that the Chapel can satisfy the second of the three requirements for immediate appealability of a temporary restraining order. In this regard, we deem it important that the Chapel retained other means to organize worship services for its congregants, including the sponsorship of online worship services, the holding of drive-in services, and the hosting of gatherings of ten or fewer people.