BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The Louisiana Supreme Court has sided with Pastor Tony Spell after reversing a lower court’s decision.

The ruling said the governor’s stay-at-home mandate was unconstitutionally applied to Spell.

In 2020, Spell attracted national attention when he ignored Governor John Bel Edwards’ COVID-19 stay-at-home order. Over 1,200 people reportedly attended Sunday service at Spell’s Life Tabernacle Church as the pandemic first emerged.

The Louisiana Supreme Court also ruled the charges against Spell, who was arrested for defying the mandate orders, quashed.

The governor shared a statement Friday in response to the ruling:

“While the Governor disagrees with the Court’s ruling and maintains that his orders were both necessary and lawful, he is accepting of it. Each and every action Gov. Edwards took throughout the COVID pandemic was done with the goal of protecting the public’s health and saving lives. Gov. Edwards has always recognized the importance of places of worship during COVID, which is why they were never closed while the public health emergency was in place.  The Governor worked closely with faith leaders throughout the pandemic, and all were encouraged to hold services as safely as possible to protect their congregations. Fortunately, we have made great strides since then thanks to the safe, effective and widely available vaccines as well as other mitigation measures and therapeutics, but we must never forget the more than 17,000 Louisianans who have died from the virus nor those who were either hospitalized or suffered serious illness as a result of it.”

Office of Governor John Bel Edwards

Attorney General Jeff Landry issued a statement Friday afternoon reacting to the ruling:

“Once again, this Governor’s overreach has been defeated in court. While it is unfortunate that it took almost two years, I am appreciative that John Bel’s unconstitutional actions have been halted by the court. This is a victory for the separation of powers and our free exercise clause. What’s more: it is a great highlight of John Bel’s hypocrisy – punishing prayer service but not food service at a mall.”

Attorney General Jeff Landry

Click here to read the Louisiana Supreme Court ruling.