Saturday, May 02, 2020

6th Circuit Allows Drive-In Church Services While Appeal Is Pending

In Maryville Baptist Church, Inc. v. Beshear, (6th Cir., May 2, 2020), the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals granted an injunction pending appeal against enforcement of the governor's COVID-19 Order insofar as it prohibits drive-in services at the Maryville Baptist Church. However the Church must comply with the social distancing and hygiene guidelines for so-called "life-sustaining" organizations. A Kentucky federal district court had refused to grant a TRO in order to permit in-person services (see prior posting). The Court of Appeals would not extend its injunction to in-person services either.  In allowing drive-in services, the 6th Circuit said in part:
The exception for “life-sustaining” businesses allows law firms, laundromats, liquor stores, and gun shops to continue to operate so long as they follow social-distancing and other health-related precautions.... But the orders do not permit soul-sustaining group services of faith organizations, even if the groups adhere to all the public health guidelines required of essential services and even when they meet outdoors.
The court added:
 As individuals, we have some sympathy for Governor DeWine’s approach—to allow places of worship in Ohio to hold services but then to admonish them all (we assume) that it’s “not Christian” to hold in-person services during a pandemic.
Liberty Counsel issued a press release announcing the decision.