A federal judge in Baton Rouge dismissed Spell's lawsuit in November. U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson said the suit against Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and others was largely moot because the restrictions had been repeatedly eased over several months. Since that ruling, almost all state restrictions have been lifted.
Judge Stephen Higginson, one of three appeals court judges hearing the case in New Orleans, questioned whether First Amendment protections of assembly and religious practices would render Edwards' emergency restrictions illegal if churches weren't being singled out. He compared the COVID-19 restrictions with other public safety limits on gatherings, such as fire codes.
“What we've got here are governor's proclamations,” Moore said, later adding, “Everybody knows that governors don't make laws.”
The 5th Circuit refused to issue a temporary order last summer blocking early restrictions on church services and other gatherings that had already been relaxed. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to get involved in November, pending further court proceedings.