Friday, June 05, 2020

Suit Challenges New Jersey's COVID-19 Limit On Worship Services

Earlier this week, two churches and their pastors filed suit in a New Jersey federal district court challenging New Jersey's COVID-19 orders which limit worship services to ten people.  The complaint (full text) in Solid Rock Baptist Church v. Murphy, (D NJ, filed 6/3/2020) alleges in part:
[L]ocal police officers have visited the churches, installed cameras on church property for surveillance purposes, investigated the parking lot of one church, filed Complaints against the 3 pastors for allowing religious gatherings that exceed the 10-people limit, even though the gathered individuals were separated by six feet and wore masks unless hindered from doing so for health reasons, while occupying the sanctuary, meeting or exceeding the social distancing and personal hygiene recommendations for “Essential Services” still permitted to gather.
... The Defendants’ Orders are not neutral laws of general applicability because they target constitutionally protected activity, significantly burden the Plaintiffs’ right to the freedom of religion and assembly, establish an orthodox form of religious exercise approved by the State of New Jersey, all the while providing broad exemptions for many secular activities that are not constitutionally protected....
[Thanks to Matthew Brown for the lead.]