Maine Church Continues to Appeals Court

Oct 4, 2021

BANGOR, ME – Even though the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review one aspect of the case involving Calvary Chapel of Bangor, the case remains pending at the First Circuit Court of Appeals for an injunction pending appeal against Maine Governor Janet Mills. This case will then return to the High Court. 

Since Governor Mills lifted the restrictions on all capacity limits in public indoor venues on May 24, she contends Calvary Chapel’s claims are moot and no effective relief can be granted. However, the governor has made it clear that she will immediately reenact these restrictions at any time for any reason if she deems it necessary. 

However, the U.S. Supreme Court precedent in Tandon v. Newsom specifies that “even if the government withdraws or modifies a COVID restriction in the course of litigation, that does not necessarily moot the case” and “officials with a track record of moving the goalposts retain authority to reinstate those heightened restrictions at any time.” 

The Supreme Court has already granted relief for churches at least 10 times, two of which involved Liberty Counsel’s case of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry. After the victory of the statewide permanent injunction on California Governor Newsom, the state was required to pay $1.35 million in attorney’s fees and costs.

When Calvary Chapel filed its lawsuit in May 2020, the governor’s orders permitted no religious gatherings, including parking lot services, and violations carried criminal penalties of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Then Governor Mills changed the restrictions to a 50-person numerical cap notwithstanding the size of the facility. However, Mills “allowed” churches to hold secular gatherings to feed, shelter and provide social services and counsel to an unlimited number of people without restrictions or threat of criminal sanctions. After Liberty Counsel filed suit, she said at some point in the future she would allow very limited worship, but only after churches applied to re-open, were approved, and displayed a badge on the building. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The U.S. Supreme Court has previously ruled against these unconstitutional worship bans at least 10 times despite Governor Janet Mills threatening to enact her draconian restrictions again. Our litigation in Maine and victories at the Supreme Court on behalf of places of worship forced Gov. Janet Mills to remove her restrictions. We want to make sure she never returns to her unconstitutional ways.” 

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