Democrats have pushed matters too far.
Their efforts to turn the coronavirus into a political windfall crossed a line.
Now William Barr slapped Democrats with a lawsuit that has all hell breaking loose.
Attorney General William Barr issued multiple warnings that the Department of Justice was not going to let governors exploit the coronavirus pandemic to seize unlimited power, shred the Constitution and take down the U.S. economy with never-ending lockdown orders.
This quickly proved to be no idle threat as Virginia Governor Ralph Northam quickly found out.
Northam seized on the pandemic to usurp tyrannical power in Virginia through executive orders that closed churches, shuttered businesses for months and also worked with Democrats in the state legislature to pass new gun control.
But it was the ban on church services that attracted the Department of Justice’s attention.
On April 5, 2020, police served Lighthouse Fellowship Church Pastor Kevin Wilson with a criminal summons for holding a service with 16 worshippers in attendance that violated Governor Northam’s ban on gatherings of more than 10 people.
The church’s capacity is 293 and there were 16 attendees so maintaining social distancing during the service was no issue.
Pastor Wilson’s lawyers filed a lawsuit challenging the summons on constitutional grounds and the Department of Justice quickly joined in support.
Department of Justice lawyers argued that Governor Northam provided exceptions to the 10 person gathering limit for law offices and liquor stores, but excluded churches.
“Permitting similar opportunities for in-person gatherings of more than 10 individuals, while at the same time prohibiting churches from gathering in groups of more than 10 — even with social distancing measures and other precautions — has impermissibly interfered with the church’s free exercise of religion,” the Justice Department’s brief stated.
Doing so, the Department of Justice argued, discriminated against people of faith.
“Unless the Commonwealth can prove that its disparate treatment of religious gatherings is justified by a compelling reason and is pursued through the least restrictive means, this disparate treatment violates the Free Exercise Clause, and the Orders may not be enforced against the church,” the filing added.
This will not be the last lawsuit challenging governors’ dictatorial shutdown orders.
Concerned citizens and lawmakers filed lawsuits in Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to reassert that the Constitution and the rule of law aren’t merely suggestions that vanish if enough people get sick.
The coronavirus is a serious threat to vulnerable populations, and courts have granted governments latitude to exercise broad powers during an emergency.
But that does not mean the only restraint on a governor’s power during a pandemic is the limit of their imagination.
This lawsuit will serve as a brushback pitch under the chin of any governor who does begin to reopen their state to stop trampling on fundamental rights such as the free exercise of religion.
Great American Daily will keep you up to date on any new developments in this ongoing story.