On Motion for Preliminary Injunction Pending Appeal.
United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio at Toledo;
No. 3:20-cv-02720—Jeffrey James Helmick, District Judge.
Decided and Filed: December 31, 2020
Before: KETHLEDGE, BUSH, and NALBANDIAN, Circuit Judges.
On November 25, 2020, the defendant in this case, the Toledo-Lucas County Health
Department, issued a resolution closing every school in the county—public, private, and more to
the point here, parochial—for grades 7-12, effective December 4. The shutdown’s purpose was
to slow the spread of COVID-19. Yet—in the same county—gyms, tanning salons, office
buildings, and a large casino have remained open. The plaintiffs here are nine Christian schools
(three suing in their own names, another six as part of a coalition) who argue that the closure of
their schools, when measured against the more favorable treatment afforded these secular actors,
amounts to a prohibition of religious exercise in violation of the First Amendment. The district
court denied the plaintiffs’ motion to enjoin the resolution as applied to their schools, reasoning
that it was a neutral law of general application, as defined by the Supreme Court’s precedents.
We respectfully disagree with that determination and grant the plaintiffs’ motion for an
injunction pending appeal.