The Moscow Legal Department has asked the Latah County court to dismiss misdemeanor charges issued against five people for allegedly violating the city’s face mask/social distancing order and resisting and obstructing justice at a September anti-mask protest in the Moscow City Hall parking lot, according to a city news release.
One of the five charged is former Latah County Commissioner candidate Gabriel Rench, R-Moscow, who lost the November election to incumbent Tom Lamar, D-Moscow.
The legal team indicated in the release that while Moscow City Code gives the mayor the authority to issue public health emergency orders, exemptions to such an order include "any and all expressive and associative activity that is protected by the U.S. and Idaho constitutions, including speech, press, assembly, and/or religious activity," unless those are specifically prohibited.
September’s event was promoted as a psalm singing event hosted by Christ Church in Moscow.
The release indicated the order states that it applies to "every person in the City of Moscow," but does not specifically provide that the order applies to speech, press, assembly and/or religious activity protected by the U.S. and Idaho constitutions.
As the cited individuals' actions could be argued to be included as such expressive and associative activities, the city moved the court to dismiss the citations, the release said.
This story will be updated for Saturday's print and web editions of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.