SC Attorney General provides guidance on enforcing limitations on groups

South Carolina News

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – The Office of SC Attorney General (AG) Alan Wilson has issued guidance to law enforcement officers regarding the enforcement of Governor McMaster’s Executive Order 2020-13.

Executive Order 2020-13 directs law enforcement officers to, at their discretion, disperse gatherings of more than three people that are deemed a threat to public health.

Governor McMaster has assured the AG that “it was never the intent of his executive order to deal with anything other than boisterous crowds and unruly behavior.”

While the AG’s office acknowledges that “the unique nature of a pandemic is such that DHEC and epidemiologists are strongly urging against even the most orderly large gatherings,” enforcement of the ordinance “must yield to established constitutional limitations.”

Some examples brought up by the AG’s office include “the freedom of religion inherent in a church or other religious meeting, or a wedding or funeral; the constitutional protections of the family unit; and the freedom of assembly for political purposes.”

Moreover, gatherings of such nature may not be subject to criminal prosecution. Instead, authorities are asking everyone for voluntary compliance, so that they are able to “maintain good order during extraordinary times of emergency.”

The full opinion can be read here.

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