RNLA Co-Chair Harmeet Dhillon's non-profit organization, Center for American Liberty, is threatening to sue two California counties for banning all out-of-home participation in religious services as part of their overreaching orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. If the counties do not rescind their orders or provide accommodation for religious liberty by this evening, in the midst of important Jewish and Christian religious holidays, the Center for American Liberty will seek an injunction:
The Center for American Liberty, in coordination with the Dhillon Law Group, and on behalf of clients residing in Riverside County, California and in San Bernardino County, California, sent demand letters today to county officials in both counties demanding the immediate rescission of two orders . . . .
“Officials in both San Bernardino County and Riverside County have gone too far and are now banning all out-of-home participation in religious services,” said Harmeet Dhillon, Chief Executive Officer of the Center for American Liberty. “County officials made zero effort to protect faithful residents’ freedom to exercise their faith. Our clients practice responsible social distancing—they wear gloves; they wear masks; they sit 6 feet apart; and yet, their participation in religious services has now been criminalized.” . . .
“Public health is a compelling government interest. But there are better ways for county officials to achieve this end that do not include banning all out-of-home religious expression, disproportionately burdening the poor by requiring residents to wears masks outside the home, or violating the Constitution,” concluded Dhillon.
Center for American Liberty's demand letter describes how the orders do not meet strict scrutiny for their burdens on First Amendment freedoms, are overbroad, are void for vagueness, violate the constitutional right to travel, and violate equal protection. Ms. Dhillon shared a description of the burden on constitutionally protected religious exercise:
From Catholic priest in San Diego County today: pic.twitter.com/zy1clGTeIS— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) April 9, 2020
Thank you, Ms. Dhillon and Center for American Liberty, for protecting Americans' important First Amendment freedoms even during this challenging time.