Constitutional Expert Says DeWine Could Shut Down In-Person Church Services, But Won't

Apr 13, 2020

In spite of stay-at-home orders in Ohio and other states, there were a handful of churches across the country that still held in-person Easter services on Sunday, including the Solid Rock Church in Monroe north of Cincinnati.

A constitutional law professor who knows Gov. Mike DeWine well says he could order churches to shut down – but doesn’t think he will.

DeWine has said he would not interfere with Ohioans’ First Amendment rights to practice their religion, though he says that should be done at home.

Former deputy attorney general Mark Weaver says fundamental rights aren’t absolute. So if DeWine issued a narrowly drawn order to shut down churches during this pandemic, Weaver says the state would be sued but probably would win.

“I think the governor has carefully drawn a line between what he can legally do and any distraction that might take way from his full focus on this crisis,” Weaver says.

Weaver says this extends to gun stores and ranges under the Second Amendment. Those places are still expected to observe social distancing and cleanliness rules.

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