Two Washington churches that sought to challenge the state’s restriction on in-person worshipping have dropped their requests in light of new guidance from Gov. Jay Inslee.
Christ’s Church of Mt. Spokane in Mead and Westgate Chapel in Edmonds asked late Tuesday to withdraw their request for a preliminary injunction from a federal judge in Spokane.
The churches had challenged the state’s capacity limits on religious gatherings ordered by Inslee in an attempt to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus: a 25% capacity cap or 200 people, whichever was less. The restrictions were in effect when the churches filed their request last week.
Inslee changed the 200-person cap to a recommended level by proclamation Monday, in response to legal cases out of New York and Nevada on which the churches based much of their legal argument. The 25% cap remains in place, according to documentation on the governor’s website.
However, the proclamation lifting the 200 person cap was enough for the churches to withdraw their quick request for relief ahead of Christmas. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice granted the withdrawal request Wednesday morning.
“Hard numerical caps on religious services constituted a significant component of Defendants’ orders for months, and therefore, constituted a significant component of the Churches’ motion for preliminary injunction,” attorneys for the church wrote in their request.
The churches wrote in their request that they would seek a hearing “in the new year” to address remaining issues before the court.
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