Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Michigan Catholic School Challenges COVID Closure Order

A private Catholic school has sued seeking a declaration that Michigan's latest COVID-19 order temporarily closing down in-person high school instruction violates its Free Exercise rights.  The complaint (full text) in Saint Michael Academy, Inc. v. Gordon, (WD MI, filed 12/11/2020) alleges in part:

The Declaration of Dr. Jayanta Bhattacharya, a world-renowned scientific expert, professor of Medicine at Stanford University, and author of 136 articles in peer-reviewed journals, attached to this Complaint as Exhibit 3, presents scientific analysis which shows that prohibiting in-person instruction for pupils in grades 9 through 12 as does Director Gordon’s current Order, is not warranted by either transmission or mortality data, and causes these students great harm....

Without in-person instruction, St. Michael Academy is unable to provide the Christ-centered, communal academic environment required for its students to grow and develop in accordance with its religious purpose, mission and vision....

The current Order is an arbitrary order that, while closing down St. Michael Academy’s high school, nevertheless permits many other types of gatherings that pose similar or greater risks of COVID-19 transmission and infection, and that are unprotected by the Free Exercise clause of the United States Constitution.

Thomas More Law Center issued a press release with more details on the case. MLive reports on the lawsuit.