A church in Maine reportedly asked the United States Supreme Court to protect its worship services from being criminalized by the governor.
Life News said the Calvary Chapel of Bangor, Maine has asked the Supreme Court through Liberty Counsel to release an injunction against Governor Janet Mills' orders against churches. Mills has lifted capacity limits in the state for public indoor venues last May 24 but have declared religious services as "non-essential and illegal" should they go beyond the limit she allows. The petition contests that the governor's ruling is unconstitutional.
Mills raised that she could enact the capacity limit restrictions at anytime and found that Calvary Chapel's claims on it as "moot and no effective relief can be granted." Life News said the governor and her health officials are actually planning to impose the restrictions again in line with the Delta variant that they anticipate to impact the state.
"(The Delta variant) is likely to become much more common here in the next month or two and it's only a matter of time before it takes greater hold here in Maine. (The state) expects the Delta variant's impact to grow in the coming weeks," Life News quoted Maine Chief Public Health Official Dr. Nirav Shah in stating.
Liberty Counsel has requested the court to review their petition but the court would not be able to do so until they are back for conference on September 27, 2021. This excludes the lengthy process it may think since there is a possibility that the oral argument on it will be done next year if the Supreme Court decides to take the case. Any delay in coming up with the decision would "exacerbate the harm" on Calvary Chapel, which has been fighting for relief for more than a year now.
"Calvary Chapel has been operating, and continues to operate, under threat of criminal penalty, with Governor Mills having declared its religious services to be non-essential and illegal if they contain more people than she allows," Life News said.
Accordingly, Calvary Chapel first filed the case in May last year since the governor fined $1000 with a six months maximum imprisonment for religious gatherings exceeding 50 persons during the pandemic.
The governor fixed the limit to 50 persons notwithstanding the actual capacity of the venue, even if it was for parking lot services. The governor did allow churches to undertake charitable services such as social services, feeding, shelter, and counseling to an unlimited number of people.
The governor expressed that she will change the restrictions after the case was already filed. In particular, the governor said she will allow "very limited worship" for churches who have been approved for their application to re-open for worship, which required a badge to be displayed outside its building.
Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver contradicted such restrictions since the Supreme Court has already "ruled against it" during the pandemic.
"The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled against these unconstitutional worship bans at least 10 times despite Governor Janet Mills threatening to enact her draconian restrictions again. We are asking the High Court to prevent Gov. Janet Mills from reimposing her unconstitutional restrictions once and for all," Staver said.