Mayor Muriel Bowser's COVID restrictions on places of worship rapidly prompted the people of religion who wanted to gather in church during the pandemic to file a lawsuit.
With the mayor's limit of a maximum of 100 people for outdoor gatherings, the Capitol Hill Baptist Church insisted their 850-count congregation to be allowed to hold outdoor services.Capitol Hill Baptist Church's lawsuit against the coronavirus restrictions quickly attracted support from the Department of Justice and more than 30 U.S. senators.
The Department of Justice also sided with the Capitol Hill Baptist Church claiming that the mayor's restrictions on places of worship contradicted what the city has seen with other outdoor gatherings, such as peaceful protests which attracted thousands of people.
Senator Roger Wicker tweeted, "Capitol Hill Baptist Chuch is fighting for fair treatment in our nation's capital. I filed a brief on behalf of 34 U.S. Senators arguing [Mayor Bowser's] selective enforcement of D.C.'s [coronavirus] restrictions violated [Capitol Hill Baptist Church DC's] 1st Amendment rights."
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott ensuingly retweeted Senator Roger Wicker's tweet with the statement, "The Mayor's selectiveness in determining which gatherings are permitted is unacceptable & violates the First Amendment & the Religious Freedom restoration Act."
"While a local government has significant discretion to decide what measures to adapt to meet a public health threat, the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution requires that, whatever level of restriction it adopts, government must treat religious gatherings the same as comparable nonreligious gatherings," The U.S. government argued in a brief that was backed by more than 30 senators.