The Michigan mask restrictions did not infringe on religious schools’ constitutional rights, according to the 6th Circuit.

September 1, 2021

Statewide mask mandates, according to parents of children at a private Catholic school in Michigan, violate their constitutional rights. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit disagrees.

Attorneys for the Lansing-based Resurrection School and its parents filed a complaint in October, requesting that a federal judge impose a temporary restraining order prohibiting the applicability of the mask rule to private schools. One of their reasons was that requiring religious school kids to wear masks infringes on their religious liberty. However, anyone “engaging in a religious service” was exempt from the mask requirement.
The restraining order motion was denied, then appealed to the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, where it was denied a second time last week.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) mask mandate was found to be “connected to a legitimate compelling governmental purpose” and was applied to all students for the benefit of public health, according to the Court of Appeals majority ruling.

Judge Karen N. Moore wrote in the majority court judgment, “We conclude that the MDHHS Orders do not violate the Free Exercise Clause because the MDHHS Orders are impartial and of universal applicability and satisfy rational-basis analysis.”

Former MDHHS Health Director Robert Gordon, Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail, state Attorney General Dana Nessel, and Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Simeon are all named in the complaint.

“This judgement supports our position that MDHHS was fully within its authority to implement a mask mandate as children returned to school last school year to help restrict the spread of COVID-19,” Nessel stated. “Enacting a mask mandate in the manner in which MDHHS did so does not violate one’s rights-it is a measure through which we can better protect public health,” says the Sixth Circuit.

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