AWMI Appeals Judge’s Preliminary Ruling

Nov 4, 2020

Andrew Wommack Ministries, Inc. (AWMI) is appealing a preliminary injunction issued by Colorado state court Judge David Prince. The order issued late yesterday does not address the controlling First Amendment and other legal authorities, and it contains several inaccurate statements. AWMI is filing an appeal of the order. 

Liberty Counsel represents AWMI in the state court lawsuit filed by the Colorado and Teller County public health departments to enforce a public health order that has changed three times in six weeks. 

The order provides almost no legal analysis, mentioning applicable Colorado law only in passing, and citing only one First Amendment case without accompanying discussion. The order excuses its dearth of analysis with disclaimers, “Given the limits on available resources and time, the Court does not recite those authorities,” and, “This Court lacks the resources of the parties or the appellate courts to address at length in this order those authorities and still issue this order on a timely basis . . . .” Instead, the court refers the reader to the briefs filed by the parties. Yet, courts are required to address the weighty legal and constitutional precedents BEFORE issuing a preliminary injunction. The court order does not even acknowledge the existence of a federal court injunction on behalf of two Colorado churches that found that applying the public health order’s 175-person cap and face-covering restrictions on houses of worship violates the First Amendment. That case is currently pending before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Prince’s order states that neither side presented any argument that the specific number restriction was constitutionally significant, but AWMI’s brief included extensive argument on this issue. The order also states that no argument was made regarding Colorado Governor Polis allowing thousands of people to protest in violation of public health orders. However, AWMI’s brief and accompanying declaration not only addressed the protests but included photographs of them. 

The order briefly discusses the challenged Public Health Order 20-35, but contains almost no discussion of the myriad of exemptions to the order’s restrictions which are at the heart of AWMI’s challenge and addressed in the ministry’s brief. 

The order states that AWMI’s counsel compared its worship services to “TedTalks,” but counsel said exactly the opposite—that AWMI’s worship events are NOT “TedTalks.” 

The order states that last summer AWMI canceled a scheduled conference, but then deceived Teller County by rescheduling it elsewhere. Yet, AWMI’s unrebutted declaration states that the Kingdom Youth Conference was NOT an AWMI event and that AWMI informed the sponsoring organization that AWMI withdrew permission to conduct the conference at its facilities, and that AWMI had no involvement in or control over that event after it was canceled. 

The order also wrongly states that AWMI “failed to cooperate” with Teller County health officials after a different summer conference, yet the evidence was that AWMI has extensively cooperated with the County for months. The evidence also showed that Teller County did not present AWMI with directives for the conference, but rather the County’s own communications showed it only provided “recommendations.” 

The evidence showed that Colorado and County health departments, as a matter of policy, publicly state that it is not possible to determine where someone contracted COVID-19.  Teller County representative Decker admitted under oath that if someone testing positive of COVID-19 had attended an event or a location before or after an AWMI event, it is not possible to determine the origin of the exposure. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “This case presents significant constitutional issues that must be fully addressed. The Constitution does not have a pandemic pause button.” 

Liberty Counsel advances religious liberty, the sanctity of human life, and the family through litigation and education. We depend on your support, which enables us to represent people at no cost. Click here to GIVE NOW.