Huge: Federal Judge Busts North Carolina Governor's 'Stay at Home' Order Inconsistencies on Church Gatherings

Huge: Federal Judge Busts North Carolina Governor's 'Stay at Home' Order Inconsistencies on Church Gatherings
AP Photo/Cliff Owen

Saturday 5/16 update: Federal Judge Issues TRO on NC Church Gathering Limits: ‘There Is No Pandemic Exception to the Constitution’

There has been a lot, and I mean a LOT going on in North Carolina over the several weeks as more people push back on Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay at home order, which is still in effect in spite of “phase one” of the so-called reopening plan beginning last Friday.

The pushback not only includes weekly reopen marches and business owners trying to reopen, but also a growing number of county sheriffs, police chiefs, and even district attorneys who have publicly stated that they will either not arrest church gatherers and business owners, or will not prosecute them in the event that they are.

The latest show of defiance comes from a faith-based group that filed a lawsuit on Thursday, objecting to the stay at home order’s strict limit on indoor church gatherings. Phase one of the “reopening” plan allows for unlimited outdoor church gatherings provided social distancing guidelines are observed, but indoor worship services are limited to 10 people:

The plaintiffs are asking for the courts to grant a concurrently filed motion for a temporary restraining order and to declare Cooper’s orders unlawful and keep any official or similar from enforcing the order. In addition, the plaintiffs are asking for damages as well as court and legal fees.

The suit says Cooper’s orders “treat religious gatherings less favorably than similar secular gatherings, virtually banning religious assembly, are not narrowly tailored, and do not permit less restrictive means to achieve the government’s interest without burdening Plaintiffs’ rights as guaranteed by U.S. Constitution First Amendment.”

“The Orders are not neutral laws of general applicability because they target Constitutionally protected activity, significantly burdening the Plaintiffs’ right to freedom of religion and assembly, establishing an orthodox form of religious exercise approved by the State, all the while providing broad exemptions for many other gatherings of more than 10 people that are not constitutionally protected,” the suit reads.

A number of Republican state legislators have expressed support for the lawsuit after also raising concerns about infringements on religious rights in recent weeks.

In an update earlier today, WNCN reporter Michael Hyland reported that the judge in the case had a lot of questions for Cooper’s legal team on the inconsistencies in his limits on church gatherings versus secular gatherings:

A sign of things to come, perhaps?

Click here to read the thread unrolled – and stay tuned.

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