Monday, August 03, 2020

Attack On Connecticut COVID-19 Orders Rejected

In Murphy v. Lamont, (D CT, Aug. 3, 2020), a Connecticut federal district court rejected a wide-ranging constitutional attack, including 1st Amendment challenges, on the COVID-19 orders of Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont. The court found that plaintiffs lack standing, saying in part:
... Barnes asserts that he is “impeded from attending church.”... However, because no Executive Order prohibits religious worship, Barnes cannot show that the conduct he wishes to engage is “proscribed by statute.” ... Furthermore, Barnes alleges no facts as to his intention to attend religious services or any specific occurrence where he was prevented from doing so.
Murphy also asserts an injury to his religious liberty, along with his freedom of association. He alleges that, “[b]efore the illegal lock down orders, my family participated in a homeschooling group, in which we met in a church. We have not met since this lock down.”... Like Barnes’ allegations, these allegations are too vague to establish an injury-in-fact.
The court also found that plaintiffs were unlikely to succeed on the merits, saying in part:
Executive Order 7TT limits attendance of places of worship to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is fewer.... In South Bay United Pentecostal Church, 140 S. Ct. at 1613, the Chief Justice, in his concurrence in the judgment denying a temporary injunction, found that those same restrictions (in California) did not violate the Free Exercise Clause. The court reaches the same conclusion here. The challenged Executive Orders are plainly neutral, and plaintiffs have not proffered any evidence to suggest that the Governor has any animus towards religious organizations. Indeed, more severe restrictions apply to secular gatherings.