A DC-based Baptist church last week filed suit in DC district court against DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and the DC government itself for blatant infringement of the Bill of Rights stemming from Bowser’s obscene double-standards in cracking down on worshippers, while not only allowing Black Lives Matter marches, but literally participating in them.
Capitol Hill Baptist Church (CHBC), a leading Baptist congregation in DC, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, naming Bowser, known for her vocal support of the Black Lives Matter protests, and the District of Columbia as plaintiffs.
And CHBC and its legal team have a firm grasp on the Constitution.
In its complaint, the church says that it ‘takes no issue’ with the DC officials’ decision to greenlight mass BLM rallies, since they are ‘themselves protected by the First Amendment,’ but ‘takes exception to Defendants’ decision to favor certain expressive gatherings over others.’
The Constitution does not take a backseat to worries over viral spread, regardless of how deadly or innocuous that spread might be. As I noted last week, reporting on the arrest of a mom in Ohio who was roughed-up, Tased, and handcuffed because she refused to wear a mask in an open-air, tax-funded space, many Americans – especially politicians – don’t understand the difference between private property and public property and the difference between voluntary and involuntary association.
Anything supported by tax cash is “public” and involuntary. Anything else is private and association on it or in it is voluntary. Period. And, because anything supported by tax cash forcibly puts all taxpayers into its cauldron, such tax-supported realms have standards imposed on how they will be managed -- standards dictated by the US Constitution.
According to the Constitution, Washington, DC, is set up by Congress. The Constitution prohibits Congress from establishing a religion or infringing on the right of free speech or free assembly on public lands. The CHBC suit correctly points out that BLM protesters have a right to freely assemble, and correctly observes Bowser’s ridiculous hypocrisy.
The lawsuit cites multiple occasions on which Bowser defied her own coronavirus restrictions for the sake of promoting the protesters’ cause. On June 6, 2020, the complaint states, Bowser ‘appeared personally at an outdoor gathering of tens of thousands of people...describing the large gathering as ‘wonderful to see.’
And the church members tried to reason with Mayor Bowser. They wrote to her on multiple occasions, reluctantly deciding to bring suit because of her intransigence and insistence on lockdown diktats that run contrary to fundamental human rights.
When asked why she celebrates mass protests while houses of worship remain closed, she responded that ‘First Amendment protests and large gatherings are not the same” because “in the United States of America, people can protest.’
Towering, painful, ignorance of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, displayed by a person who swore an oath to the Constitution.
So, the disparate lockdown rules and double-standards continue:
The coronavirus policy, that is now in force in DC, caps the number of attendees at religious gatherings at 100 people or 50 percent capacity, depending on which figure is fewer. The restrictions apply to both indoor and outdoor services.
Which is, of course, not only as wrong as wrong can be, it doesn’t even take into consideration the fact that the church building and lands are not tax-supported, therefore not public land, therefore, there should be even less of a question about whether people can voluntary invite others to congregate on them.
As noted, if this were public land, the forced taxpayer support for said land could cause friction between people with differing views on how it should be run – which is why the Constitution sets out the rules for free speech and free association.
Private property does not even present those fundamental conflicts, and the Founders understood the principle that ownership and peaceful use of private property was supposed to be one of the major actions the government existed to DEFEND, not attack.
Mayor Bowser (evidently no relation to the Sha Na Na singer or the Mario Bros nemesis) might want to brush-up on the meaning of voluntary association, and how private property like a church -- or church lawn or playground or parking lot – don’t force people to enter. Entrance and adoption of risk are voluntary. Likewise, in all subsequent private associations into which those worshippers might enter with others -- and those others might engage with the worshippers -- also are voluntary, operating under the same risk-acceptance standard.
Unless someone lies to another as they voluntarily interact – pretending to be safe when actually, knowingly, dangerous – there is no fraud, no criminal action, no supposed rationale for the agents of the polis, in this case, DC, to get involved.
The members of Capitol Hill Baptist Church are in the right. They have rights, and Mayor Bowser doesn’t seem to understand this.