In Legacy Church, Inc. v. Kunkel, (D NM, April 17, 2020), a New Mexico federal district court refused to enjoin enforcement of the Order issued by the New Mexico Department of Health that bars gatherings of more than five people in houses of worship. Legacy Church, a megachurch, requires approximately 30 clergy and technical staff members to live stream its religious services. Summarizing its 100-page opinion, the court said:
The primary issues are: (i) whether Plaintiff Legacy Church, Inc…. is likely to succeed on the merits in demonstrating that Defendant Kathyleen M. Kunkel’s Public Health Emergency Order (4-11-20-PHO)…, which restricts places of worship from gathering more than five people within a single room or connected space, violates Plaintiff Legacy Church’s rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment….; and (ii) whether Legacy Church is likely to succeed on the merits in demonstrating that the Order violates [its]… rights to peaceably assemble under the First Amendment. The Court concludes that: (i) the Order does not violate Legacy Church’s First Amendment religious freedom rights, because the Order is neutral and generally applicable; and (ii) the Order is a reasonable time, place, and manner restriction, and so does not violate Legacy Church’s First Amendment rights to assemble.
[Thanks to Marty Lederman via Religionlaw for the lead.]