Pastor seeks revival of suit challenging virus restrictions


NEW ORLEANS (AP) — About 100 supporters of a Louisiana minister gathered outside a federal appeals court in New Orleans on Monday to show support as his lawyers asked to revive a lawsuit he filed last year challenging the state’s coronavirus restrictions.

Tony Spell repeatedly flouted the public health restrictions at his Life Tabernacle Church in the Baton Rouge suburb of Central, and faces six state criminal counts as a result.

His supporters assembled at a public park across from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where they prayed, listened to speeches and waved flags reading “An Appeal to Heaven.” Spell then walked into the courthouse, escorted across the street by one man carrying a pole with a large cross affixed at the top, while a man nearby waved an American flag.

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.

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