Following a recent article with the Daily Journal, partner James McManis discussed freedom of religion and other constitutional issues arising from coronavirus shutdowns in California. Two lawsuits brought by churches are pending in the Ninth Circuit after lower courts ruled in favor of California, saying that First Amendment rights are not absolute, especially when weighed against public health.
Jim agreed with the lower court findings. He says, “The most overriding, compelling point is the public’s health and safety, and that trumps just about anything.” Ultimately, the issue could be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court if appellate courts differ in rulings.
Regarding whether the president may override governors and allow churches to open immediately, Jim says there is no statutory basis for a president to lift state lockdowns. “He has no authority.”
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