A group of church leaders has scored a temporary victory against Governor Roy Cooper’s stay at home order. A federal judge has ruled to allow indoor worship services for at least 14 days.
US District Court Judge James C. Dever III. He wrote:
“There is no pandemic exception to the Constitution of the United States or the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Plaintiffs have demonstrated that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their Free Exercise claim concerning the assembly for religious worship provisions in Executive Order 138, that they will suffer irreparable harm absent a temporary restraining order, that the equities tip in their favor, and that a temporary restraining order is in the public interest. Thus, having considered the entire record and governing law, the court grants plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary restraining order.
“No constitutional right-including the right of free exercise of religion-is absolute. … Individual liberties, “under the pressure of great dangers,” may be reasonably restricted “as the safety of the general public may demand.
“This court does not doubt that the Governor is acting in good faith to lessen the spread of COVID-19 and to protect North Carolinians.But restrictions inexplicably applied to one group and exempted from another do little to further these goals and do much to burden religious freedom.”
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