Justice Breyer rejects Maine church request to prevent new COVID-19 restrictions


Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer rejected a Maine church’s request to prevent the state from reimposing COVID-19restrictions on places of worship.

Breyer rejected the church’s motion for an injunction without comment, though the motion was unlikely to succeed after Maine lifted its restrictions on religious gatherings in May. But citing the Delta variant, the church argued that the governor could at any time reimpose the restrictions.

The church filed the petition last week, arguing that Maine had imposed the “most severe restrictions in the nation on places of worship” and exempted some activities and businesses while targeting religious gatherings.

“Despite the abundant precedent from this Court, Maine ignored it all and continued to impose discriminatory and unconstitutional restrictions on religious worship services long after it became clear they were unconstitutional,” the church argued in the petition. “In fact, even after all of the various restrictions had been enjoined or rescinded, Maine maintained the dubious distinction of imposing the most severe restrictions in the nation on places of worship.”

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The Supreme Court has been involved in several disputes between government and religious institutions since the start of the pandemic as churches across the country have argued against restrictions on gatherings, which many claim violate the First Amendment.

William Mears contributed to this story.

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