A federal judge has granted a temporary restraining order that allows North Carolina churches to hold indoor worship services. Saturday's order shoots down Gov. Roy Cooper's executive order that limited only 10 people or less inside for religious services.
“There is no pandemic exception to the Constitution of the United States or the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment,” U.S. District Judge James Dever III said in his order granting a temporary restraining order.
“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.”
Governor Cooper's office released a statement on the ruling, saying they "disagree" with the decision, but will not appeal.
We don't want indoor meetings to become hotspots for the virus and our health experts continue to warn that large groups sitting together inside for long periods of time are much more likely to cause the spread of COVID-19. While our office disagrees with the decision, we will not appeal, but instead urge houses of worship and their leaders to voluntarily follow public health guidance to keep their members safe.
Federal judge blocks NC governor’s restrictions on religious services https://t.co/ML5J9g4KM6— Patricia Dague (@patdague) May 18, 2020
Democratic NC Gov. Cooper "appears to trust citizens to perform non-religious activities indoors...but does not trust them to do the same when they worship together indoors," a federal judge said in his ruling blocking Cooper's order. More here:https://t.co/1zQ8PYHzPM— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) May 18, 2020
Court challenges are succeeding in more places every week on constitutional grounds, such as the recent church case in NC: "There is no pandemic exception to the Constitution of the United States or the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment." https://t.co/VsEqMtZw21— William F. Tell 🎶 (@MuseSeeking) May 18, 2020