On Thursday, New York Attorney General Letitia James released a bombshell report that shows what was already suspected about Governor Andrew Cuomo's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Cuomo severely misled the public about the number of COVID-19 deaths from the state's nursing home residents. The report is the latest chapter in the controversy surrounding a Health Department directive from last March which required nursing homes to accept residents who had tested positive for the virus:
The count of deaths in the state’s nursing homes has been a source of controversy for Mr. Cuomo and state Health Department officials, who have been sensitive to any suggestion that decisions made at the outset of the pandemic may have caused some of those deaths, which the state puts at more than 8,700.Read more
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent changes in state election laws, the 2020 election cycle has been highly litigious, to say the least. Over 325 lawsuits have been filed since the primary election season alone. As the Heritage Foundation's Hans von Spakovsky told the Daily Caller: "Almost all of them have been filed by the progressive left and their allies in the Democratic Party."Read more
On Tuesday afternoon, U.S. Attorney General William Barr testified before the House Judiciary Committee on a wide variety of issues including recent civil unrest, the COVID-19 pandemic, and election security. During the lengthy hearing, nearly every Democratic member of the committee spent his or her time throwing accusations at Attorney General Barr without giving him the opportunity to respond.Read more
On Friday, the Supreme Court denied a Nevada church's emergency application for injunctive relief to allow the church to operate beyond the limit placed on them by Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak. The church was challenging the Governor's Directive 021 which allows large groups at restaurants, bars, casinos, gyms, bowling alleys, indoor amusement parks, water parks, and pools as long as they remain at a 50% fire-code capacity limit. However, places of worship are limited to a 50-person limit regardless of the available facilities or precautions taken. The church alleges that the Governor's directive violates the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment. While the Court's denial of the church's application was a single sentence long, the 4 dissenting Justices wrote 3 separate dissents totaling 24 pages expressing their concerns over the Governor's blatant disregard for religious Nevadans' Constitutional rights.Read more
The Decision to Return to In-Person Schooling Should be Made with Students in Mind - Not Special Interests
On Tuesday, the Center for American Liberty, founded by RNLA Co-Chair Harmeet Dhillon, announced that they will be suing California Governor Gavin Newsom over his executive order which bars in-classroom education for 80% of California’s children. The complaint was filed on behalf of a group of parents who have a diverse set of concerns as a result of Newsom’s order which applies to public and private schools.Read more
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and state and local governments take different approaches in responding it, an increasing number of cases have been filed against alleged government overreach. At first they were largely First Amendment cases, as we have previously covered (5/5, 4/22, 4/16, 4/13, 4/9, and 3/27), but now litigation is pending on nearly every government action in response to the pandemic, including challenges to governors' entire executive orders.
Last week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Tony Evers' "safer-at-home" order. RNLA member Jake Curtis analyzed the decision, which was made on state separation of powers grounds:Read more
Continuing their wide-ranging efforts not to let a good crisis go to waste, Democrats and their liberal allies are using the novel coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to call for increased censorship, particularly of online speech. This is not a new effort for them but merely a new excuse, and they are alarmingly praising communist China as a model for online speech censorship (yes, the same China that recently suppressed and threatened those who shared accurate information at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, blocks its citizens access to many websites, and regularly monitors individuals' "private" conversations on various chat and email platforms). As George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley wrote:Read more
Yesterday, the California Republican Party, represented by RNLA Co-Chair Harmeet Dhillon, filed suit in the Superior Court for Sacramento County against Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
The complaint seeks clarification of the governor's overreaching Stay Home Order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which could be interpreted to designate ballot harvesters as "nonessential workers" who must stay home under the order. The complaint seeks clarification so that "all candidates and their supporters are . . . abiding by the same rules" for the May 12 special congressional election.Read more
During the COVID-19 pandemic, state and local governments are taking many steps to protect the health and safety of their residents. There is broad--and increasing--debate over the wisdom of some of these measures. No one can deny the unprecedented nature of the threat from this novel coronavirus, but it is equally true that Americans do not surrender all their First Amendment liberties during times of disaster or distress. Indeed, there are established bodies of law that apply to government restrictions on free speech and religious liberties, even during a public health crisis. This Friday on a Zoom webinar for RNLA members, two experts--Rick Esenberg and Casey Mattox--will address restrictions on free speech and religious liberty during the current pandemic.Read more
During a small Mississippi church's drive-in midweek service during Holy Week, police officers issued $500 citations to all the worshippers for violating the mayor's COVID-19 order. The worshippers were ticketed despite sitting in their socially distanced cars with their windows up when other people were allowed to pick up food from a drive-in restaurant with their windows down and despite the fact that the Mississippi governor's executive order regarding COVID-19 had specifically allowed religious services that followed social distancing guidelines.
The church sued and requested a temporary restraining order for violating its rights under the Free Exercise, Free Speech, and Right to Assemble Clauses of the First Amendment, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the relevant Mississippi executive orders. Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest in the case.Read more