"Maryland State Capitol Building" by Marylandstater / Public Domain

DOJ invokes protests in urging Maryland county to amend order for religious gatherings

Jun 12, 2020

By Justine Coleman

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is calling on Maryland’s Montgomery County to amend a COVID-19 order to allow for religious gatherings after officials permitted protests over George Floyd’s death.

Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division sent a letter to the county’s executive and council on Wednesday expressing “civil rights concerns” about the enforcement of an executive order that prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people.

The letter begins by praising officials in the county, which sits just outside of Washington, D.C., for releasing a June 1 statement permitting “peaceful public protest” despite the order to limit gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Of no less importance, of course, is the First Amendment’s protection for religious exercise,” Dreiband wrote.

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