Branch Covidian Again Loses Suit Against Governor

The Baton Rouge Advocate reports:

A federal judge in Baton Rouge has reaffirmed that Gov. John Bel Edwards has the authority to fashion “reasonable restrictions” on religious activity during the novel coronavirus pandemic and that his series of gradually evolving limits on public gatherings this year complied with the Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson this week dismissed claims by a Central pastor who claimed the governor’s orders limiting church service crowd sizes violated First Amendment and other constitutional rights.

Jackson dismissed Spell’s federal claims with prejudice, meaning they can’t be raised again, and Spell can no longer pursue monetary damages. The judge dismissed Edwards, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux and Central Police Chief Roger Corcoran from the lawsuit.

In the early weeks of the pandemic Spell was arrested after gunning a church bus in reverse at a protester. He then refused to wear a mask at a court hearing in which charges were dropped. At least one of Spell’s parishioners has died of COVID and his lawyer was hospitalized with the virus in April.