First Amendment

Prohibiting Religious Services Makes the First Amendment a Coronavirus Victim

While governments are shutting down religious services and fining pastors who defy those orders.

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A Massachusetts pastor, Kristopher Casey, will be punished with a $300 civil fine for convening more than 10 people at his Sunday church service. If he does it again, the fine will increase to $500, and he could face criminal charges, Masslive.com reports.

And where has the press been in the face of what seems, on its face, to be an egregious violation of the First Amendment's protections of peaceable assembly and the free exercise of religion? The newspapers have been basically cheering it on.

"The constitutional guarantee of civil liberties is not absolute, and its abridgment is not necessarily an act of tyranny," a Washington Post editorial advised. "In this pandemic, the reach of an individual's freedom to be foolish ends an inch away, where the next individual is entitled to protection against the peril posed by the fool's heedlessness." The Post insists that "the same rationale" that closed "concert halls, sports arenas, restaurants, and gyms," also "justifies and requires closing the doors to churches, synagogues, mosques, and other traditional venues of worship."

A New York Times editorial took a similar position: "Bans like these are legal, as long as they are neutral and applicable to everyone…. Under Supreme Court precedent, any infringement on speech or religion must be incidental to the central goal of the restriction, which in this case is clear: stopping the spread of the coronavirus."

If state, local, or federal authorities were shutting down newspaper printing plants, restricting reporters from newsgathering, or preventing the physical distribution of newspapers on pandemic-related public health grounds, the Times and the Post would almost certainly take a different, and less casual, view of the matter. They'd be in court complaining about First Amendment violations faster than you can say Floyd Abrams.

Back in September, the Times' publisher, A.G. Sulzberger, had a long article asserting that "a tour of our nation's history reminds that the role of the free press has been one of the few areas of enduring consensus," that "the First Amendment has served as the world's gold standard for free speech and the free press for two centuries. It has been one of the keys to an unprecedented flourishing of freedom and prosperity in this country and, through its example, around the world." Sulzberger insisted that "in the United States, the Constitution, the rule of law and a still-robust news media act as a constraint."

The same First Amendment and rule of law that protects the free press is the one that protects the freedom of assembly and the free exercise of religion. For that self-interested reason alone, you'd think that maybe the newspapers would be less eager about cheering on the abridgment of civil liberties.

A few brave journalists have taken a different view of it. Veteran economic columnist David Warsh is critical of what he describes as "news media that pass along orders without questions." An editorial in the New Boston Post observes disapprovingly that "all this is happening in the state where people prized their liberty enough to start the American War for Independence."

Pastor Casey of the Adams Square Baptist Church in Worcester, in his April 22 letter to Governor Baker of Massachusetts and to the mayor and police chief of Worcester, quoted the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, which is older even than the federal First Amendment: "It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religious profession or sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship."

The federal Constitution does expressly provide that some rights are limited in extraordinary circumstances. The suspension clause in Article I, for example, provides that the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus can be suspended "when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." But there's no such language about suspending the First Amendment. And even the habeas corpus language applies only specifically to cases of "rebellion or invasion," not as a blanket "public safety" concern. Whether the novel coronavirus qualifies as an "invasion" may yet be a matter for litigation.

In the meantime, leaving aside the legal questions, as a practical and political matter it seems highly unlikely that Americans will stand idly by indefinitely while the government forbids them from gathering in their places of worship. The newspaper editorial writers may roll over for it, but Pastor Casey and his congregants, and many others like them, will not.

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  1. This is a huge problem in the People’s Republic of NJ. We have a governor openly contemptuous of our civil liberties. And a willing Duma Legislature to go along with him. And the Courts are conspicuously silent.

    Third Circuit….help us!

    1. The only way the Third Circuit can help you is if you and your comrades of the synagogue are willing to take a stand against these orders. At the very least you need to file lawsuits, but more than likely, you will need to open your synagogues and hold services, knowing you may get arrested, in order to have sufficient standing for your cases to hold up. If your religion is really as important to you as you claim, then stand up and put your money where your mouth is.

    2. Last election, the state assembly seats for South Jersey took a hard shift right. Until the north does the same, there is no change.

      Of course, all of our municipal elected officials are still deep blue, but it’s a start.

      1. Where are you at in South Jersey? I’m in Camden County, just across the bridge from Philly.

        1. Gloucester.

        2. Here’s the Legislative Roster. More (R)’s than you’d expect.

          1. Ah, shit, we’re practically next-door neighbors. I’m in Stratford.

            1. I used to live off of Somerdale Road, in the Broadmoor development.

        3. Burlington….but I go to Cherry Hill for shul.

          1. my dad officed in the Cherry building in the early 80s.

            1. I know that building well. BoltBus has a nice CH to NYC route across the highway from CH Mall.

  2. “The constitutional guarantee of civil liberties is not absolute, and its abridgment is not necessarily an act of tyranny,” a Washington Post editorial advised.

    So they would be just fine with a Trump executive order that they cease publication until they can certify each and every employee, and each and every point of distribution, is virus-free?
    Yeah, that’s what I thought.

    1. The whole “democracy dies in darkness” thing was going too slow on its own. The editorial board felt it need a bit more of a nudge.

  3. Even as a militant atheist (though one who was raised in a radically right-wing fundamentalist Christian household), I find it beyond embarrassing that churches have voluntarily closed in a country founded by citizens shepherded by pastors who were willing to face prison or even execution rather than knuckle under to demands that they be licensed to preach.

    At some point, religious organizations are going to have to defy these orders simply to challenge them in court. Hopefully, we see such challenges springing up across the country very soon. As far as I’m concerned, they’re long overdue already.

    1. Jesus said to “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s” — not “render unto Caesare whatever the fuck he asks for.”

      1. “Caesar,” goddammit.

        What do I have to render unto Reason to get a freaking edit button?

        1. Render unto Reason what is Reason’s?

          1. Render the fat-pigs’ fats wherever you find the fat-pigs! Turn them into soap for my soap-boxes! Only THEN will the pig-fat, FINALLY be clean!

        2. Way to go Nonstopdrivel!!! All around town, I gotta agree!

          “Prohibiting Religious Services Makes the First Amendment a Coronavirus Victim”

          Title says it all… They took away religious freedom, and didn’t even bother to amend the Constitution while doing it! (And I’m scarcely a religious fanatic either).

          1. And so, as predicted by the fanatic right wing nutcase bigoted clingers, the first amendment falls as the second amendment fell.

          2. My religion specializes in human torture and sacrifice. Luckily our rights are protected.

      2. Jesus said to “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s” — not “render unto Caesar whatever the fuck he asks for.”

        That is the best damn thing I’ve read all day! Thank you for the laugh.

    2. Nonstopdrivel … “Even as a militant atheist…”

      About that them thar God v/s atheism v/s agnosticism thang…
      I used to wonder a lot, but I had my agnostic friends convince me that God, if He does exist, does NOT want us to worship Him, because He does not believe in Himself (He needs self-esteem counseling, I was told. Else He’d make Himself FAR more visible). If God doesn’t believe in Himself, then we obviously shouldn’t, either. I was left to wonder, well then, WHO in the Hell is qualified to give self-esteem counseling to God Himself?!?! Never got an answer…

      Then my devout atheist friends convinced me, that to get to Atheist Heaven, one had to NOT believe in God, and do that non-believing thing in JUST the EXACT right way… As for example, they’d say, “See, Madeline Murray O’Hair, SHE is the ONLY one who REALLY quite properly, understood EXACTLY how God does NOT believe in Himself, and only SHE in Her Divine (Anti-Divine?) Perfect Understanding, was fit to be “Ruptured” through the space-time vortex portal (rupture), straight to the Atheist Heaven that She deserved, and all the rest of us… Even the less-than-perfect atheists… Are “Left Behind” after the “Great Rupture”. And since Madeline Murray’s body was never found, I had to accept their argument. She was the PERFECT atheist, and only SHE, in Her Perfect Disbelief, had been Ruptured… Her and Her alone…

      …BUT THEN THEY FOUND HER DEAD BODY!!! The arguments of my atheist friends were utterly crushed! I had just BARELY started to think that maybe they were correct! Now, I just dunno WHAT in blue blazes to think any more!!! What do y’all say, especially you atheists? PWEASE advise me, ah ams ignernt…

      HELP ME!!!!

      1. What are you going on about???

        Is there a such a thing as a devout atheist?

        1. Yes, and Madeline Murray O’Hair was one! But, some say… I don’t know… But some say that she has been taken up in the “Great Rupture”! And the rest of us? We are all now “Left Behind”!

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left_Behind

  4. A Massachusetts pastor, Kristopher Casey, will be punished with a $300 civil fine for convening more than 10 people at his Sunday church service. If he does it again, the fine will increase to $500, and he could face criminal charges, Masslive.com reports.

    This is what happens when you have “common sense” musket control.

    1. The laws against people gathering are stupid… But they are stupid for everyone. A religion gets no special rights.

      1. Congrefs will pass no law respecting an establishment of religion…

      2. Incorrect. They get special rights because the first amendment specifically says they get special rights.

        1. It also says that people can peaceably assemble. I’d say focusing on the broader question would be better, as religious gatherings are just one case of gatherings in general. Though it might be easier to make the religion case in court. In which case, I wish them luck.

          1. It is like the NRA suing NYC for banning nunchucks (which unfortunately they lost) or switchblades. It isn’t technically a rifle but the concept of arms covers all arms, therefore an infringement on one type of weapon is an infringement on all types of weapons. An infringement on religion is an infringement on the entire 1A.

      3. Cool, when does the manager at WalMart get his fine for having more than 10 people in the store?

  5. If state, local, or federal authorities were shutting down newspaper printing plants, restricting reporters from newsgathering, or preventing the physical distribution of newspapers on pandemic-related public health grounds, the Times and the Post would almost certainly take a different, and less casual, view of the matter.

    This in a nutshell is the press during this epidemic. If you’re a national journalist, you likely live and work in a hot zone. You are based out of an urban center. You are seeing it up close and applying all you see locally on the national level when crafting your narrative. You have no basis of knowledge for anything outside your home ground.

    Additionally, your personal finances are likely not much affected by any mandated lockdown. You can work from home and as long as you are reporting the doom you see, you are working. Therefore, you similarly seem to have no frame of reference for those whose livelihoods are threatened by the mitigation policy you through your reports demand of everyone.

    Learn to code, it turns out, can be slung both ways.

  6. Teachers in our school district are sending out videos in which they hold up signs telling the kids how much they miss them, and I’m sitting here thinking, “Um, wut?”

    What kind of codependence must teachers experience with the kids under their charge if they actually miss them on their monthslong fully paid vacation?

    1. Because each and every day of the school shutdown is a day in which adults are learning what drivel those teachers get paid to deliver, and they are learning first hand that the essential learning can be done in two hours a day.
      That leads to job threatening questions about what the hell are we paying for?

      1. There’s a lot of truth to that. I was homeschooled all the way through high school, and the first day of the lockdown, I told my kids that one of the advantages of homeschooling is that you can be so much more efficient. I promised them that if they were diligent, they could be done before noon almost everyday. It took a couple of weeks for them to catch on, but they eventually realized I was right, and they’ve had so much more free time than they’re accustomed to.

      2. I know, emailed my daughters 1st grade teacher after two weeks of online school to complain how bad what they were using was, to ask when it would be up to speed with what they are doing when in class. I was informed this is what they do in class! My wife who grew up in the backwaters of Russia was flabbergasted and how remedial it is, they don’t even teach phonetics anymore just site words and don’t get me started on how easy the math is, stuff she was doing in daycare.

    2. Because there are actually a few people that enjoy bring around a bunch of kids all day and I’m sure they miss it. I don’t get it. Kids wear me out. They can have mine back during the day even if it means I might die from the virus.

      And yet, I’m considering homeschooling next year, especially if there is a chance of distance learning or the kids have to be good comrades and wear masks at school or some other weird thing.

      And how did we get from church gatherings to teachers missing kids?

  7. Given that there’s no empirical evidence that God even exists, let alone that He can intervene in the course of the coronavirus pandemic, it is the duty of the media, as servus servorum Dei, to suppress any disinformation being spread about that might tend to criticize or contradict the scientific magesterium. Worshipers of false gods are not to be spared the will of the One True God, Experts.

    1. “Given that there’s no empirical evidence that God even exists…”

      Then WHO is it, who causes the next Kleenex to pop right out of that box, ready to be plucked, the very instant that I plucked the last one out?!!?

    2. I will now demonstrate, logically and impeccably, that Government Almighty is the boss of God Almighty…

      Here is PROOF!

      We read in the papers, every day almost, of federal judges (servants of Government Almighty) sitting in judgment (using their magical mind-reading powers) about whether or not our religious beliefs are “sincerely held”, or not.

      Yet I have NEVER heard of credible evidence concerning God Almighty, sitting in judgment about whether or not our beliefs in Government Almighty are “sincerely held”, or not!!!

      Brain case closed!!!

  8. Why would a religious social gathering have some legal exemption over any other social gathering in this brave new covid world?

    1. I am not saying that they should. The First Amendment protects the right of the people to peaceably assemble for any reason. I am pointing out that it’s particularly egregious for clergy to submit to government dictates in a country with such a rich heritage of religious defiance of governmental overreach.

      1. My question was not dircted at anything you have been pointing out.

        My question is meant to point out that the law (even shitty ones) should apply to all individuals equally.

        1. Think of it more like a war. I agree on peaceful assembly, too. I see at as one battle in an overall strategy.

  9. Just for the record, my church has continued to meet, and to practice weekly communion. The only change was to meet outdoors because the building we use was closed by the owner.
    I live in one of the lesser offending states, and obviously where the weather allows outdoor meetings, but we would have met regardless of any edits from fascists.

    1. Why does your church not own its own building? That would seem to make your congregation vulnerable to outside circumstances. What if your landlord die or simply raises the rent beyond what your organization is capable of payping?

      1. Many churches start out this way. Renting space for services on Sundays in lesser used halls. Landlords are often happy to have regular users of the spaces. You do that until you can build the congregation and capital to lease long term space or buy a building.

        1. The same is true of Chabad

  10. I love the people who say that religion is not being infringed because no one is stopping you from believing in God and you can do all you services on Zoom. First, religion freedom is not just about believing but practicing how you see fit. Second, no you can’t do all your services via Zoom (and going to Church is also about fellowship, which is also one of God’s commandments). I like to use the example of communion. In many denominations, Catholic and Lutheran come to mind (I’m Lutheran my wife’s family is Catholic), communion is a sacrament and communion can’t be done remotely. I had someone, who claimed to be Jewish, try arguing with me that communion really isn’t a sacrament and Jesus never told us to take communion (I told him to read Luke chapter 20) and so it doesn’t matter. That Jesus only gave two commandments (not sure where he got that idea). It is like first, it doesn’t matter if I feel I need to take communion, that is my right. Second, who made you an expert on my religion?

    1. If religious people are being wronged, we are all being wronged. Any legal or constitutional argument that overturns the State lock down must rely on individual human rights that apply to every individual human. Religion need never be mentioned. It is MOOT.

      1. You are right of course, however, realistically you have to convince people of that. It is frustrating at times. Convincing people that banning church services is easier than convincing people to allow parties in the park. Win this battle and use the momentum to win the next battle. You have to Okinawa before you can invade Japan.

        1. You have to take Calais before you break out of Normandy.

      2. Except your rights of speech, press, petitioning your government for a redress of grievances are still valid. Going to church, which is an integral part of your right to practice your religion, ISN’T valid.

        So no, it’s not the same. Atheists don’t go to church, so their rights aren’t being violated.

    2. What sort of Lutheran? I was raised WELS. Considering you’re out West, I assume you’re either Wisconsin or Missouri synod.

      1. ECLA. My father’s family is Norwegian and Danish and we’re strong in the ALS before it was absorbed into the ECLA.

        1. Gotcha. For someone with conservative and/or libertarian leanings like yourself, that must be an uncomfortable fit at times.

          1. It has been recently.

    3. Orthodox Christians also fit that description. Our bishops have laid out guidelines for how many people can be in the building at one time, how far away they should stand, no coffee hour as usual, etc. So our parish is holding both Vespers and Divine Liturgies (Masses) twice a week, and we basically have a sign-up sheet. It’s not ideal, but you do what you gotta do.

      I get what you’re saying. My impression is that many of the people dismissive toward churchgoers think, “Christians who give a damn = happy-clappy Bapticostals, so they can just livestream their awful music and dopey lectures and be grateful. 1A preserved.”

    4. That’s Luke Chapter 22 (14-20), not Luke 20, that talks about communion.

      Who made you an expert on your religion, soldiermedic76?

  11. With respect to the headline of this article, as a victim of oppression, where in the matrix of intersectionality does the First Amendment lie? And is it punching up or punching down to defend it?

  12. really more a victim of the Elites and their force squads.

    some chick down here just got seven days in jail for cutting hair “seven days early” fuck that

  13. “The constitutional guarantee of civil liberties is not absolute, and its abridgment is not necessarily an act of tyranny,” a Washington Post editorial advised.

    Where to begin? Fuck the Pest.

  14. As much as libertarians like to invoke the Constitution, those who do so incorrectly are only undermining the rest of us who actually understand how the Constitution works. The First Amendment protects religious freedom, meaning that government cannot impose any burdens or disadvantages onto a church or religious group. This does not mean that religious people get special treatment and are exempt from laws that the rest of us are expected to follow.

    1. The First Amendment protects religious freedom, meaning that government cannot impose any burdens or disadvantages onto a church or religious group

      Exactly right. Which is exactly what the government is doing.

      This does not mean that religious people get special treatment and are exempt from laws that the rest of us are expected to follow.

      Well, the right to practice your religion is spelled out in the Constitution. So is speech and freedom of the press, and the government isn’t posing any additional burdens on those during this lockdown. So in fairness, the religious are being persecuted.

      1. But the burden is not on a religious group. No government is saying, “churches may not assemble in groups of more than 10.” Regardless of how good or bad the order may be, this restriction applies to all people. It is odd to use religion as a defense when no religious group is being targeted.

        1. No church… So yes a religious group is being targeted, i.e. all religious people who want to attend church. Your argument is sophistry. Oh ten people can attend. What if twelve want to go to church? What if your church usually has an attendance of 50, 100, 200? Yes, it is an infringement.

          1. I don’t think you are understanding what “targeted” means. You are correct that 50 people cannot go to church. You are overlooking that 50 people cannot go to the bowling alley or the ice cream shop. Attendants of church are not being targeted; they are being treated equally as the rest of society.

            1. Not in every case. Walmart can have 50 people in a store but a church can’t. Therefore churches (and other groups) are being targeted. As soon as they included the words churches and religious services it did target churches. Just not exclusively, but it did target churches. And the courts have ruled that it does. Also, the orders place as especial burden on churches that have more than 10 members. Because how do they decide which people can attend? Just because the government is treating some other groups the same way doesn’t change the fact that by including religious services it went from a blanket order to one that targets religion (and yes not exclusively).

            2. Um….no. Here in the People’s Republic of NJ:

              ‘Essential’ businesses are open; synagogues & churches are not
              Offices are open; synagogues & churches are not

              Sorry, the facts and effect of the emergency declarations discriminate against religious organizations. We cannot say Mourners Kaddish for our dead. Our free exercise of our religion is being deliberately impaired.

    2. No one is asking for special rights. They are asking for the rights they are guaranteed. If you choose not to go to church or believe, that is your right. No one is forcing you too. So this order has done nothing to infringe your right to choose not to attend church, however, those who want to attend church, can’t in many states. So their rights are being infringed. It isn’t a special right at all, but a right guaranteed for everyone rather they attend church or not.

      1. Actually, your rights, even if you don’t attend church ARE being infringed also. If you chose to attend church you don’t currently have that option. Even if this is a very remote possibility, the fact is you don’t even have that remote possibility at this time.

    3. You posit that these laws do not infringe upon the Religious Freedom clause of the first amendment (I disagree); however, your argument completely ignores the Freedom of Assembly clause.

      1. Only because it was not an issue. Freedom of assembly and association absolutely apply to this case, and I imagine would be the basis for a much stronger legal argument. So why are people choosing to invoke freedom of religion instead?

        1. Because governors are going out of their way to include churches (by name, as in using the actual words churches) in their orders while allowing other assembly to continue. They are banning certain assembly, and one of the ones they specifically name is churches and religious services. That is why they have been losing in the courts. Because they specifically included the word churches and or religious services, thus they were singling out religion. Yes they banned other types of assembly but still allowed some assembly. It is all unconstitutional, but once they specifically used the words church/religious services, they crossed from it just being a blanket order to targeted.

          1. The particular case in the article does not appear in such a way. My impression is that nowhere may assemble more than ten people, and the place that assembled more than ten in this case happened to be a church. It could have been any group of people in any location and they would have received equal treatment. I could be missing something though.

            1. But they specifically mentioned churches and therefore it did target religions. You can’t change that fact. Yes the rules apply to others (while also excepting others).

              1. Yes, it is a fact. I guess the real issue here is that “freedom of religion” does not mean what you thought it meant.

                1. Yes it does. Freedom of religion means practicing religion as you see fit not as the government allows you too. Period. Free Speech doesn’t only apply to speech the government allows you, or in a manner the government allows (or it shouldn’t) and freedom of religion doesn’t just apply to religion when the government allows it. So it means exactly what I think it means. It is you who are mistaken. If it doesn’t mean this what does it mean? Because not being allowed to practice how you want would make freedom of religion pointless.

            2. You are missing something. The particular case mentioned in the article is in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts order (linked below) in paragraph 3 says, “Gatherings subject to this order include, without limitations… [a whole string of types of gatherings including “faith-based”].” But then it goes on to say, “This limitation shall not apply to the operations or activities of any business or organization in its provision or delivery of COVID-19 Essential Services.” So, there are businesses or organizations that *can* have gatherings of ten or more. Oops. Even if you discriminate against other things along with religion, if you’re allowing *anybody* to be excepted, it’s targeting religion. But it gets worse.
              Paragraph 4 provides more exceptions. The most relevant one being, “This Order shall not apply to any municipal legislative body or to the General Court or to the Judiciary.” So the Governor is saying, “OK, the government can do this, but churches can’t.”

              https://www.mass.gov/doc/march-23-2020-essential-services-and-revised-gatherings-order/download

  15. There is no allowance anywhere for suspension of the 1st no matter the reasoning and this was deliberate because they knew that if any limitation of the 1st were allowed under any circumstances it would provide a foothold for tyranny to slowly widen that door way.

    Any judge that rules in favor of suspending 1st amendment rights needs to be arrested, tried and imprisoned for abuse. There must be a precedence set that judges can not simply ignore constitutional rights because they believe it is in the interest of public safety; that logic is as bad as the tired excuse of “its for the children”.

  16. I am an atheist, but I am tired of people saying that churches and other gatherings are not being targeted to they don’t get 1st Amendment rights. Putting aside that this is a bullshit SCOTUS ruling as the 1st Amendment is pretty clearly worded, literally every State has designated certain services as “Essential” and allow them to violate the quarantine. This includes food stores, and in most cases gun stores because gun groups started leveling lawsuits about 2A infringements. When the government starts picking special cases, they no longer get to claim that the ban is being applied to everyone equally.

    1. Exactly. In Knox County, TN while “permitting” some religious gsatherings they tried to declare that communion was not a “core element” of Christianity so was still forbidden.

      As if waiters delivering food to individual customers is all that different.

      1. No, more like how cutting out human hearts is prohibited even though it is a core element of the worship of Huitzilopochtli.

        Per the Supreme Court you can’t do illegal things just because your motive is religious. (The problem is that too many things are illegal, not peoples motives.)

  17. Well said. And the moral is not to say we shouldn’t focus on religion but that we need to fight every battle the same as the 2A. If you want to hold a birthday party at your house, fight for that right. Sue under freedom of association. We want to go to church, support our rights rather than stating (as some above have) that religious people aren’t special and we should focus on the bigger picture. Support every case taken against these illiberal, unconstitutional rules.

    1. And Reason can point out every violation. Today we talk about churches, yesterday they posted about Lightfoot’s actions. A month ago about the gun control stories.

    2. An important factor here is that churches are generally open to the public. It’s a lot harder for a cop to poke his head into your house and say, “More than 10 people is verboten!” than it is for the same cop to poke his head into a church (especially since most of them post the hours that they’ll be meeting outside the door).

  18. Right here on Reason, in its Volokh Conspiracy blog, is a very good article by a law professor on why this infringement, like others, may be constitutional. All rights can be abridged under the right circumstances. As an example, the draft is constitutional, and many of us were subject to being drafted and sent to our deaths in Vietnam (and prior wars).

    Rather than rehash it, go take a look.

  19. “Prohibiting Religious Services Makes the First Amendment a Coronavirus Victim”

    So does the prohibition of gatherings in general.

    1. Don’t blame the virus. Blame the statist and anti-religious bigots in government.

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  21. Embarrassing. If you’re going to call yourself “Reason,” at least hire writers who understand basic Constitutional law. Time/manner/place restrictions consistently get upheld by courts. Also, the words “separation of church and state,” “federalism,” and “privacy” are also nowhere to be found in the Constitution; guess that means they don’t exist!

    1. Time/manner/place restrictions do consistently get upheld. But when the time is *never* and the place is *nowhere*, it’s a little hard to argue that it’s actually a time/manner/place restriction.

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