US Fifth Circuit on Protests & Worship

Yesterday, the U. S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit ruled that a lawsuit by Rev. Tony Spell against Louisiana Governor Bel Edwards was no longer relevant, because Edwards’ order prohibiting in-person worship services had expired.

Spell, Pastor of Life Tabernacle Church in Central, LA, refused to abide by the order from the very start of the Covid-19 hysteria, and held in person worship services from then to this day.

Spell has been arrested, briefly jailed, and issued numerous summons. He sued in federal court in early May.

What is noteworthy in the unanimous ruling by the 3-judge panel is the concurring opinion written by James Ho.

He addresses the issue of how protests and worship services have been treated differently by authorities.

At the outset of the pandemic, public officials declared that the only way to prevent the spread of the virus was for everyone to stay home and away from each other. They ordered citizens to cease all public activities to the maximum possible extent—even the right to assemble to worship or to protest.

But circumstances have changed. In recent weeks, officials have not only tolerated protests—they have encouraged them as necessary and important expressions of outrage over abuses of government power.

It is common knowledge, and easily proved, that protestors do not comply with social distancing requirements. But instead of enforcing the Governor’s orders, officials are encouraging the protests — out of an admirable, if belated, respect for First Amendment rights. The Governor himself commended citizens for “appropriately expressing their concerns and exercising their First Amendment Rights.” If protests are exempt from social distancing requirements, then worship must be too.

None of this is to say that Pastor Spell and his parishioners should ignore the advice of health experts. But the same is true for the protestors. No doubt many other Louisianans would have protested too, but for the advice of health experts. The point here is that state and local officials gave them the choice. Those officials took no action when protestors chose to ignore health experts and violate social distancing rules. And that forbearance has consequences.

The First Amendment does not allow our leaders to decide which rights to honor and which to ignore. In these troubled times, nothing should unify the American people more than the principle that freedom for me, but not for thee, has no place under our Constitution.

See here the complete ruling.

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5 Responses to “US Fifth Circuit on Protests & Worship”

  1. Heisenberg Says:

    Too wordy for your followers Walt. Just cut and paste the news star

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Heisenberg likes to read himself. If he was on tv he would act like AOC A typical see me guy.

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