July-August 2021 Church & State Magazine | AU Bulletin

Two Colorado churches that sought an exemption from that state’s law governing natural disasters were turned down by Supreme Justice Neil Gorsuch June 1.

Denver Bible Church and Community Baptist Church argued that Colorado state law interfered with their religious-freedom rights and sought broad relief from it. The statute in question deals with an array of emergencies, including pandemics, wildfires and earthquakes.

Among other things, the churches asked the high court to overturn a 1905 decision upholding mandatory vaccinations in the face of a smallpox pandemic, reported SCOTUSBlog.

The churches’ request came in the form of an emergency order. Gorsuch, who has jurisdiction over Colorado and neighboring states, denied the request without putting the matter before the entire court.

Although Gorsuch issued no written opinion on the matter, he may have acted because the question is in part moot. The churches had resisted any restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Colorado officials told the court that many of those restrictions have been lifted. (Denver Bible Church v. Polis)