Maine Church Asks Supreme Court to Block Governor’s Limits on Religious Gatherings

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A Bangor, Maine church is requesting that the Supreme Court for an injunction against Governor Janet Mills’ restrictions on religious gatherings, which she just recently loosened but which the church fears could be imposed again in the future.

Liberty Counsel is representing Calvary Chapel of Bangor, who argues that despite Mills’ claims that the basis of the request is moot as her restrictions are no longer in place, with a rise in cases of the Delta variant in the state, the governor could turn around and re-impose the limits on religious gatherings.

The law firm noted that “the governor’s public health officials are already raising concerns over the purported Delta variant of the Coronavirus and its potential to impact in Maine.”

“In fact, her officials have stated that the Delta variant ‘is likely to become much more common here in the next month or two and it’s only a matter of time before it takes greater hold here in Maine.’ Dr. Nirav Shah, the governor’s chief public health official, has stated that he ‘expects the Delta variant’s impact to grow in the coming weeks.’”

The church is appealing a ruling in the governor’s favor in May, and Liberty Council requested the injunction as it could be next year by the time the case is argued.

“Any delay in deciding Calvary Chapel’s request for injunctive relief would merely exacerbate the harm from which this church has been fighting for relief for over twelve months,” the firm wrote. “Calvary Chapel has been operating, and continues to operate, under threat of criminal penalty, with Governor Mills having declared its religious services to be non-essential and illegal if they contain more people than she allows.”

“Therefore, Calvary Chapel needs an injunction from the High Court so that Governor Mills cannot enact her unconstitutional orders against churches again,” they explained.

Pastor Ken Graves filed a lawsuit against the governor after defying her orders to limit in-person church gatherings, which the suit stated was unconstitutional. At the time, churches were required to cap religious gatherings at 50, yet could hold secular gatherings for an unlimited number of people if they were providing food, services, or counseling.

The suit was denied by a district judge, and so the church appealed.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled against these unconstitutional worship bans at least 10 times despite Governor Janet Mills threatening to enact her draconian restrictions again. We are asking the High Court to prevent Gov. Janet Mills from reimposing her unconstitutional restrictions once and for all,” Liberty Counsel’s founder and chairman, Mat Staver, said in a statement.

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