Legacy Church, Inc. v. Kunkel (U.S.C.A. 10th Circuit, 2020)

Separation of Church & State
Free Exercise of Religion

10th Circuit Court of Appeals ,

Separation of Church & State
Free Exercise of Religion

At issue in this case is a church invoking the Free Exercise Clause to seek a full exemption from a New Mexico coronavirus public-health order. The order limits indoor religious services to twenty-five percent of building capacity, which is similar to or less restrictive than limitations on comparable nonreligious activities. In opposing the church’s claim, the legal brief joined by ADL asserts that the public health order is fully consistent with all Free Exercise Clause standards. Furthermore, the exemption the church wants is not a permissible religious accommodation. To the contrary, it would violate the Establishment Clause by favoring the church’s religious practices (requiring unlimited in-person worship) over a compelling government interest in protecting the health and safety of all of its residents.