‘Expect Action’: Justice Department To Review State And Local Crackdowns On Religious Services

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A spokesperson for Attorney General Bill Barr said Saturday the Justice Department (DOJ) could take “action” against widespread coronavirus-related crackdowns on religious gatherings by state and local governments.

“During this sacred week for many Americans, AG Barr is monitoring govt regulation of religious services,” Barr spokesperson Kerri Kupec tweeted on Saturday. “While social distancing policies are appropriate during this emergency, they must be applied evenhandedly & not single out religious orgs. Expect action from DOJ next week!”

While many state and local governments have banned religious and other gatherings in a purported attempt to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, several churches have promised to hold services on Easter Sunday regardless of the legal ramifications.

Some, including On Fire Church in Louisville, Kentucky, have been holding so-called “drive-in services” for weeks, in which parishioners park in the church parking lot and never get within six feet of other families.

Kentucky has become an epicenter of sorts in the battle as Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear has promised to have authorities record the license plates of church attendees and turn them in to local health departments in order to force attendees to “self-quarantine” for two weeks.

U.S. District Court Judge Justin Walker on Saturday granted a temporary restraining order that prevents Louisville’s mayor from blocking the services, calling his intention to record license plates “unconstitutional.”

“The Mayor’s decision is stunning,” Walker wrote. “And it is, ‘beyond all reason,’ unconstitutional.” (RELATED: ‘Take A Step Back’: Rand Paul Rips Kentucky Governor Over Easter Church Measures)

According to the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”