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Congregants kneel and observe social distancing while listening to Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez celebrate Mass at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles, Sunday, June 7, 2020. Parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Los Angeles had suspended public Mass on March 16 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Attendance at the Mass is limited to 100 people. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, state and local governments imposed lockdown orders that placed temporary but substantial burdens on rights and liberties. While it is unsurprising that governments have constraining powers during times of peril, it is surprising that the constitutional limits on those restrictions are not well-understood. In April, Attorney General William Barr issued a memorandum directing U.S. attorneys to “be on the lookout for state and local directives that could be violating the constitutional rights and civil liberties of individual citizens.”

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