Governor Carney faces lawsuit over emergency order that closed churches

Governor John Carney is being sued by two pastors who argue his COVID-19 emergency order from last year that closed churches violated Delaware’s constitution.

The lawsuits seeks an injunction to prevent the Governor from ever again implementing such an order.

The plaintiffs in the case have been identified as Rev. David Landow of Wilmington’s Emmanuel Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Pastor Alan Hines of Townsend’s Free Will Baptist Church.

Tom Crumplar is one of several attorneys leading the lawsuit, specifically representing Landow. He says religious freedom is crystal clear in the Delaware constitution which the Governor’s order violated.

“In the pandemic, the Governor made, unfortunately, religious rights were second class, and they are really supposed to be preeminent, there’s not supposed to be any power that the state has over religious institutions, non-whatsoever, and the Delaware constitution is very clear about that,” Crumplar said. “All that we’re really asking is that the courts speak with a loud voice that the Delaware constitution applies.”

A similar lawsuit from November of last year that was brought at the federal level classified churches and houses of worship as essential for any future emergency order. That case was based on the U.S. constitution and was never able to secure a legal precedent.

“We had a federal court case, which was really based more on the U.S. constitution, for immediate relief during the pandemic,” Crumplar concluded. “The Governor was a moving target. He kept changing the rules, so it kind of mooted that out and we were never able to get a clear precedent-setting rule and that’s what we’re trying to do now.”

The Governor’s Office has refrained from commenting on the case, citing the fact that they cannot comment on pending litigation.

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