Resurrection School v. Hertel, No. 20-2256 (6th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
To control the spread of COVID-19, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) required that all persons five years of age and older wear a mask in indoor public settings, including while attending public and private K–12 schools. A Lansing Catholic elementary school and parents with children enrolled at the school, challenged the mask requirement as a violation of their free exercise of religion, equal protection, and substantive due process rights. Since they filed suit, MDHHS has rescinded almost all COVID-19 pandemic emergency orders, including the challenged mask requirement.
The Sixth Circuit held that the challenge to the mask requirement is not moot, and affirmed the denial of the Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction on the merits. Given the very real possibility that MDHHS may be faced again with escalating COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, Defendants have not met their “heavy burden” of showing that it is “absolutely clear” that they will not reimpose impose a mask requirement, including for children in grades K–5 receiving in-person instruction. Because the requirement to wear a facial covering applied to students in grades K–5 at both religious and non-religious schools, it was neutral and of general applicability. The MDHHS Orders satisfy rational-basis review.