After the Supreme Court refused to hear the case of a pastor in Louisiana facing criminal charges for opposing restrictions on the coronavirus, the state governor weighed.
Louisiana Gov. John Bell Edwards, a Democrat, said Saturday that he “left science and data to inform” about the decisions he made about the size of the crowd and other restrictions.
“I am grateful that the United States Supreme Court has denied this effort to undo these mitigation efforts,” Edwards said in a statement.
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“For months, I talked and prayed with leaders of many religions as we moved together in this pandemic. I know how difficult this time was for them, and I deeply appreciate their commitment to profess their faith even in difficult circumstances and given the health of their congregations. “
Life Tabernacle Pastor Tony Spell filed an urgent petition with the Supreme Court earlier this month seeking relief from the nine criminal charges currently pending against him.
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Spell’s record argues that Louisiana’s restrictions on large gatherings violate “one of the most valuable guarantees of the First Amendment: the right of a church, which is by definition a congregation, to decide whether or not to convene.”
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito rejected Spell’s request Friday night without asking for information from Louisiana officials or taking the case to full court.
Spell also filed a lawsuit against local and government officials in May, but lower courts ruled against him.
According to the latest filing, Spell has been charged with several offenses of violating coronavirus restrictions and one offense of allegedly trying to hit a protester with his car.
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Alito’s ruling came after the Supreme Court ruled against restrictions on the capacity of religious services in certain parts of New York.
The Supreme Court also ruled 5-4 to leave coronavirus restrictions in California and Nevada.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.