Liberty Counsel filed an appeal to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Andrew Wommack Ministries International (AWMI) regarding the denial of a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction from the governor’s unconstitutional COVID-19 orders.
On Monday, Liberty Counsel filed for an emergency injunction set forth in a 98-page complaint with an appendix exceeding 600 pages. The most recent public health order was issued on September 15, and the upcoming AWMI Minister’s Conference begins on October 5. The District Court denied the emergency request in a seven-page order. Liberty Counsel filed an immediate appeal and will request the Court of Appeals to issue an injunction pending appeal to address the serious constitutional problems with the discriminatory orders restricting religious gatherings.
Governor Jared Polis and the state and local public health departments are discriminating against religious gatherings with restricted numerical and capacity limitations that are not imposed on nonreligious gatherings.
Under the governor’s orders, AWMI may conduct nonreligious counseling, social services, and other “necessities of life” for individuals at its facilities in unlimited numbers provided only that social distancing is practiced. Over 80 “Critical Businesses” are exempt from the size limitation, including Primary-12 public, charter, and private education. However, Gov. Polis’ orders automatically subject AWMI to criminal penalties for conducting a religious worship service if there are more than 175 individuals present in the same sanctuary. As soon as a gathering transitions from a nonreligious to a religious gathering for Bible study or worship, the number must be reduced to no more than 175.
In addition, Gov. Polis allows mass gatherings of protestors throughout the state with no social distancing or other health precautions.
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The virus does not discriminate between nonreligious and religious gatherings, but Gov. Jared Polis does. There is no constitutional justification to treat nonreligious gatherings better than religious gatherings. The First Amendment gives preferential treatment to the free exercise of religion. We look forward presenting arguments to the Court of Appeals, and even the Supreme Court, at some time in the future. This case is far from over.”