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Title: Supreme Court declines case of Louisiana pastor Tony Spell, who defied coronavirus orders
Source: THe Advocate [Not the one you think, Stone]
URL Source: https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_r ... b5-11eb-aac4-c70ee54f7e62.html
Published: Nov 28, 2020
Author: YOUSSEF RDDAD
Post Date: 2020-11-28 18:55:51 by Gatlin
Keywords: None
Views: 86
Comments: 4

Supreme Court declines case of Louisiana
pastor Tony Spell, who defied coronavirus orders

The nation’s highest court turned away a legal challenge from the Rev. Tony Spell, the Central pastor who sought to shield himself from criminal charges he faces for violating Gov. John Bel Edwards’ crowd- size restrictions by holding crowded church services.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Friday night rejected Spell’s request to hear his case after lower federal courts in Louisiana ruled Edward’s coronavirus mitigation orders were either constitutional or moot after his stay-at-home order lapsed.

Central pastor lawsuit moot, but judge suggests state favoring protesters over churchgoers Central pastor lawsuit moot, but judge suggests state favoring protesters over churchgoers Spell, the pastor at Life Tabernacle Church in Central, was charged with violating the governor’s cap on crowd sizes by repeatedly holding packed church services in late March.

Not long after, the Pentecostal preacher was charged with assault after a man protesting the services said Spell nearly backed into him with a school bus outside the church.

Those charges, as well as the six counts of violating the governor’s emergency order, remain pending in East Baton Rouge Parish district court.

Spell later filed a lawsuit against the state, arguing Edwards’ order violated his First Amendment rights. State and federal courts struck down those challenges, affirming that the governor has the authority to issue such orders during a health emergency.

Rev. Tony Spell loses again in fight against Gov. John Bel Edwards' crowd-size limits Rev. Tony Spell loses again in fight against Gov. John Bel Edwards' crowd-size limits Alito denied the request without asking either side to respond or relaying the matter to the full court, which often happens in contentious cases.

The Supreme Court’s decision to not hear Spell’s case follows an earlier ruling this week in which a split court overturned restrictions New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo imposed on religious services.

Justices reached that ruling by a split 5-4 decision, with newly sworn- in Justice Amy Coney Barrett playing a decisive role in the decision.

Jeff Wittenbrink, a lawyer representing Spell along with former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, called the decision a “setback.”

In the time since Spell’s legal team asked for emergency relief from state charges, Edwards relaxed crowd size limits, promoting the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to find Spell’s challenge was no longer relevant.

Wittenbrink said the Supreme Court essentially agreed with the lower court, but added the case could be heard again in New Orleans.

“In light of what the Supreme Court ruled the other day, when it gets to the 5th Circuit, we will win," Wittenbrink said.

Edwards defended mitigation measures, saying in a statement Saturday restrictions on crowd sizes are driven by data and medical science and are aimed to blunt the virus’s spread.

He added that many faith leaders have worked to navigate the pandemic –– such as holding virtual services and limiting crowds when gathering restrictions were relaxed –- despite the difficulty in those changes.

“I have taken no such decisions lightly,” the governor said. “The reasonable, legal mitigation measures have been necessary to protect the people of Louisiana from unchecked spread of the coronavirus, which would limit hospitals’ ability to deliver care.”

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#1. To: All (#0)

Tony Spell won't wear a mask in courthouse
and misses hearing; lawyer enters his plea

Through his lawyer, Central pastor Tony Spell pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a half-dozen misdemeanor offenses alleging the Pentecostal preacher violated the governor's emergency order when he preached to hundreds of people at his church this spring. Spell missed the hearing because he didn't want to wear a mask inside the courthouse, which is required.

The pastor at Life Tabernacle Church was charged in April with six counts of violating the state's limit on gatherings of more than 10 people that was in effect at the time to blunt the spread of the coronavirus.

A number of Spell's supporters also stood outside the 19th Judicial District Courthouse after they and Spell were denied entry into the building. Because Spell is charged with misdemeanors, he was not required to appear with his lawyer. He cited religious freedom as his reason why he wouldn't wear a mask inside the courthouse.

"This is about religious and civil liberties," Spell said. "What is at stake? We lose our right to assemble."

Central pastor charged after defying coronavirus order to limit crowd sizes Central pastor charged after defying coronavirus order to limit crowd sizes At the time Spell was charged in early April, coronavirus cases had been surging in Louisiana, and the state saw some of the deadliest weeks of the pandemic outbreak not long after.

Despite the offenses carrying a $500 fine and jail time, Spell set up several showdowns with authorities when he continued to hold services that drew large crowds of worshippers.

At least one church member had died after contracting COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new virus, and Spell's lawyer, too, was hospitalized after catching it. It isn't known where the men contracted the virus.

Spell was also arrested not long after and charged with assault when a man protesting the services said the pastor nearly backed into him with a school bus outside the church.

That case remains pending, but the court had ordered that Spell wear an ankle monitor and stay at home as a condition for his bail.

Coronavirus hits home for defiant Central pastor: church member dies from illness, lawyer in hospital Coronavirus hits home for defiant Central pastor: church member dies from illness, lawyer in hospital He continued to return to his pulpit and continued to preach in the weeks following, in some services lifting his pant leg to reveal the location tracking device around his ankle.

Spell was relieved of house arrest in May and also was charged with two counts of being a fugitive from justice for violating his house arrest. The case has been pending in district court with no future date set.

The pastor previously said the Gov. John Bel Edwards' emergency proclamations violated his and his congregants' First Amendment rights to assemble and practice their faith.

Those arguments, among others, were included in a federal lawsuit Spell filed against the state at the U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge. The judge in the case rejected Spell's claims in May, ruling the governor had the authority to issue emergency directives during a severe public health threat.

Baton Rouge District Judge Bonnie Jackson on Tuesday set a hearing for Jan. 25, 2021, for the six counts of violating Edward's order.

Gatlin  posted on  2020-11-28   19:03:15 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#2. To: Gatlin (#0)

Gov. John Bel Edwards

The governor's name is Bel? As in the god of the Babylonians? You can't make this stuff up.

watchman  posted on  2020-11-28   19:41:48 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#3. To: watchman (#2) (Edited)

Gov. John Bel Edwards

The governor's name is Bel? As in the god of the Babylonians? You can't make this stuff up.

Distant relatives, far removed – Perhaps ...

Gatlin  posted on  2020-11-28   19:46:02 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#4. To: Gatlin (#3)

Distant relatives, far removed – Perhaps ...

The use of the name Bel indicates that the Governor is a follower of the Babylonian deity Bel (meaning lord or master).

In the Bible, Daniel was given the name Bel-teshazzar by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. The name Daniel, with the suffix el for Elohim, means "God is my judge", whereas Belteshazzar means "Bel protects". Nebuchadnezzar was trying to changes Daniel's entire allegiance away from Elohim and toward Bel.

For Edward's parents to hang the name Bel on him, they must have been into some freaky secret society dark arts. Sounds about right for Louisianna.

watchman  posted on  2020-12-01   17:35:41 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


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