Lawyers for Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, told the justices in court papers that the challenge was neither “necessary ” nor “warranted” because Colorado had already lifted capacity limitations from houses of worship last December. It has also converted some distancing requirements into nonbinding guidance.
“The only remaining general restriction that applies to all establishments, including houses of worship, is facial coverings, but a specific exemption for religious practice permits their temporary removal to participate in religious services,” the state argued, adding that the law creates a mechanism for the state to respond to a broad range of disaster emergencies.
In their petition, lawyers for the churches and pastors accused lower courts of “failing to apply strict scrutiny to mandates that were not neutral and not generally applicable to both religious and secular activities.”
They argued that under Colorado’s disaster statute, “favored activities are exempt from mandates arising from (the statute) but … mandates apply to houses of worship engaging in comparable activities.”