Banning Religious Assemblies to Stop the Spread of COVID-19 [April 16, 2020]   [open pdf - 645KB]

From the Document: "Most of the United States is now subject to some form of state or local order directing residents to 'stay at home' and closing nonessential businesses in response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). While the particulars of the orders vary, some state and local orders prohibit in-person religious gatherings and require houses of worship to shut down physical facilities. To the extent that the orders burden residents' exercise of religion, they may implicate federal and state protections for religious freedom, including the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. Some of these bans are already being challenged in court, and at least one Kentucky church has prevailed in its legal challenge: on April 11, 2020, a federal district court entered a temporary restraining order preventing the Louisville mayor from prohibiting 'drive-in church services.' By contrast, a day earlier, another federal court had declined to grant a California church an exemption from a San Diego order prohibiting in-person religious gatherings. This Legal Sidebar explores legal challenges to orders prohibiting religious gatherings, focusing on Free Exercise Clause arguments. A separate Sidebar discusses other First Amendment considerations raised by the gathering bans, including whether stay-at-home orders violate federal constitutional protections for freedom of speech."

Report Number:
CRS Legal Sidebar, LSB10450
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/
Media Type:
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