Case Info & Legal Team

Dickinson County Mass Gathering Limitations on Religious Gatherings

Pushes back against a local health order requiring religious institutions to cap their attendance to 25% of the approved fire code occupancy.

Religious liberty must be protected in Kansas

As we try and navigate some of the more nuanced complications brought about by COVID-19, Kansas Justice Institute has taken action, where necessary, to defend the Constitutions of both the United States and the State of Kansas. As officials in Kansas attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19, some have overstepped their authority. Kansas Justice Institute will continue to protect the right to freely exercise their religious beliefs.

No reasonable person can credibly deny COVID-19 is a serious public health issue that demands serious attention. Although serious, COVID-19 does not excuse violating religious freedoms.
– Sam MacRoberts

KJI Successfully Challenged a Dickinson County Health Order Restricting Religious Gatherings

A Dickinson County Health order that placed strict occupancy rules for religious establishments was challenged by Kansas Justice Institute. County leaders quickly amended the order.


A local health order that substantially burdens the free exercise of religion must pass strict scrutiny, the most stringent review possible.
– Samuel MacRoberts

The local health order required religious institutions to reduce the maximum attendance to 25% of the approved fire code occupancy but permitted retail stores to operate at 50% capacity. Polling places, licensed childcare facilities, schools, and court facilities were exempted from the occupancy limitations altogether. According to KJI, the order imposed an arbitrary and unconstitutional impediment to the free exercise of religion and violated the Kansas Constitution, the Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act, and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.


Constitutional rights still exist in a pandemic. The earlier health order imposed an arbitrary and unconstitutional impediment to the free exercise of religion.
– Samuel MacRoberts

Case Timeline

Letter to Dickinson County
Press Release