Cases & Deals

Catholic Archdiocese of Washington obtains preliminary injunction against D.C. worship restrictions

Client(s) Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.

Jones Day represented the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington in obtaining a preliminary injunction against the District of Columbia's COVID-related restrictions on the number of people who can attend indoor worship services. To protect the health and safety of its flock during the pandemic, the Archdiocese has undertaken science-based precautions including masking, social distancing, and sanitizing at all of its churches. But despite the Archdiocese's proven track record of safe indoor worship, the District barred all churches from opening their doors to more than 25% of their ordinary capacity or 250 people. The District did not impose similar restrictions on many secular venues, including big-box stores and transportation facilities. Represented by Jones Day, the Archdiocese sued in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to invalidate the restrictions. Agreeing with Jones Day's arguments, the court preliminarily enjoined the restrictions on the ground that they likely violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Wash. v. Bowser, No. 1-20-cv-03625 (D.D.C.)