As the coronavirus pandemic continues to simmer just below the surface of the American cultural cauldron, there is another struggle emerging in regard to just what establishments should and should not be operating during this national emergency.
In some states, they’ve referred to the dichotomy as “essential” versus “nonessential”, with the difference between the two being decided all too often by bureaucrats. In Michigan, this led to a series of protests after items such as children’s car seats and vegetable gardening supplies were deemed “nonessential”.
In California, several religious organizations have complained that Governor Gavin Newsom’s lockdown measures are inordinately affecting the ordained, and the Department of Justice simply isn’t going to stand for it.
Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband pointed out that Newsom’s plan allows a variety of businesses to reopen in “Stage 2,” but does not allow churches and other houses of worship to reopen until “Stage 3,” for no apparent reason.
Citing Attorney General William Barr’s April memorandum warning state and local governments to respect First Amendment rights of religious freedom — “[T]he Constitution is not suspended in times of crisis,” Barr wrote — Dreiband argued that while California could determine the pace of its reopening, it could not infringe on religion…
And that’s not all:
Dreiband told Breitbart News Sunday recently that the DOJ had achieved results by writing to local governments to inform them that they were infringing on religious liberty, and they had backed down from draconian restrictions.
The Los Angeles Times notes that while several California churches have already challenged the state’s stay-at-home orders, none has yet been successful. Dreiband acknowledged these decisions, but argued in his letter that the decisions do not address discrimination in the reopening plan.
One can only imagine that this is a scenario that will play out in several different locales in the coming weeks.
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