In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, churches around the country were unfairly targeted with overly strict lockdowns and other restrictions that many believe were clear violations of Americans’ First Amendment rights.
Fearing a new round of restrictions due to the emergence of the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus, a Maine church petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and prevent the state from imposing a new round of church lockdowns. The request was outright denied by liberal SCOTUS Justice Stephen Breyer, Fox News reports.
Churches prep for the worst
While a number of churches in several states scored victories at the Supreme Court level over the legalities of shuttering houses of worship during the pandemic while keeping strip clubs and bars partially open, the victories came long after the harsh lockdowns had taken place.
In an earlier report from Fox News, the Calvary Chapel of Bangor asked the Supreme Court to block Maine’s governor from once again imposing lockdowns that affect worship services, citing a strong possibility of that happening once again, given the recent surge in COVID-19 cases around the state and country.
“Despite the abundant precedent from this Court, Maine ignored it all and continued to impose discriminatory and unconstitutional restrictions on religious worship services long after it became clear they were unconstitutional,” the church wrote at the time.
It added: “In fact, even after all of the various restrictions had been enjoined or rescinded, Maine maintained the dubious distinction of imposing the most severe restrictions in the nation on places of worship.”
The church was referencing Gov. Janet Mills’ (D) extreme reaction last year in which she banned all worship services, before slowly backing them down by instituting capacity limits.
Breyer denies motion
It doesn’t appear as if the Calvary Chapel of Bangor will prevail in their request to the high court, as Justice Breyer not only rejected the church’s request for an injunction but did so without comment.
Fox noted that the motion was unlikely to be heard, given that the state formally lifted all of the restrictions in May, though the church is clearly looking at the possibility of it happening again in the near future.
NBC News noted that filing for such an injunction and being denied is typically the case when it involves a hypothetical situation, as realistic as it might possibly be.
An attorney with the Florida-based Liberty Counsel believes that given the unique circumstances and past history of the state’s lockdown measures, the church was well within its rights to request the injunction.
“The fact that the governor is already raising the alarm over the new variants and her continued power to reinstate her prior restrictions at any time demonstrates the continuing need for injunctive relief from this court,” the unnamed lawyer said, according to Just The News.