Monday, May 11, 2020

Pastor Sues Over COVID-19 Orders and Conditions of Bond

In Louisiana, Pastor Tony Spell, who has defied state COVID-19 stay-at-home orders by holding large church services at Life Tabernacle Church in Central, Louisiana, has filed suit against Governor John Bel Edwards and other officials seeking a temporary restraining order allowing him to continue to hold services.  The suit challenges both the Governor's emergency orders and special conditions of bond imposed on Spell after he was charged with nearly running over a protester with his church bus. Those special conditions include compliance with the Governor's orders. The complaint (full text) in Spell v. Edwards, (MD LA, filed 5/7/2020) alleges in part:
There has been no factual determination made that Pastor Spell has actually violated the ambiguous and contradictorily-worded Emergency Orders, but Defendants are enforcing by penalties and home incarceration the Emergency Orders against him as if alleged violations were proven fact by the "end run" of a misplaced "special condition of bond," currently imposed by a Louisiana State District Court judge. Furthermore Defendants have explicitly failed and refused to even allow argument regarding the discriminatory and disparately applied orders against Pastor Spell and Life Tabernacle Church while allowing local and similarly situated non-religious businesses-"big box" retailers, groceries and hardware stores to continue business accommodating gatherings, crowds of more than ten (10) people or of any limit whatsoever, without the enforcement of any "social distancing," or other measures supposedly required by the Emergency Orders.
WBRZ News reports on the lawsuit.