Joining a lawsuit by a Baptist church, the U.S. Justice Department is warning officials in Greenville, Mississippi, they must recognize “there is no pandemic exception to the fundamental liberties the Constitution safeguards” in their response to the coronavirus.
“Individual rights secured by the Constitution do not disappear during a public health crisis,” the DOJ said in a brief filed in a case brought by Temple Baptist Church against the city.
“These individual rights, including the protections in the Bill of Rights made applicable to the states through the 14th Amendment, are always in force and restrain government action.”
The church sued after the city fined people for sitting in their cars in the church parking lot to listen to a sermon by the pastor broadcast through a radio signal. …
“In Greenville, you can be in your car with the windows rolled down at a drive-in restaurant, but you can’t be in your car with the windows rolled up at a drive-in church service,” said ADF spokesman Ryan Tucker.
“To target churches that way is both nonsensical and unconstitutional,” he said. …
The brief explained, “The United States has a substantial interest in the preservation of its citizens’ fundamental right to the free exercise of religion, expressly protected by the First Amendment.”