Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Court Refuses To Enjoin Mask Requirement For Religious School Students

In Resurrection School v. Gordon, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 242315 (WD MI, Dec. 16, 2020), a Michigan federal district court refused to issue a preliminary injunction sought by parents of Catholic school children to eliminate the COVID face covering requirement for children attending K through Grade 5 at religious schools. Parents contend that the requirement interferes with the free exercise of the students' religion. Rejecting that claim, the court said in part:

The order is clear: individuals over the age of five must wear a mask when they are out in public. Therefore, given the near-universal mask requirement, the Court finds nothing in the contours of the order at issue that correlate to religion, and finds that the order "cannot be plausibly read to contain even a hint of hostility towards religion." ... The Court finds that the challenged face-mask requirement is neutral and generally applicable. Any burden on Plaintiffs' religious practices is incidental, and therefore, the orders are not subject to strict scrutiny.... Plaintiffs have failed to establish a liklihood of success on the merits of their First Amendment claim.