Outrageous? VA Proposal Would Limit Large Gatherings in Homes
Can the government regulate large gatherings in your own home? A proposed zoning ordinance for one county in Virginia would limit “frequent and large gatherings at neighborhood homes.”
It would limit the number of people you can have in your home to 49. Such gatherings would be limited to no more than three times in 40 days. The law would regulate anything from family parties to open houses.
Kenric Ward from watchdog.org reported:
Officials will get an idea Wednesday when public-comment hearings begin in Virginia's most populous county.
"I believe the county is risking a lawsuit and/or a Constitution challenge by interfering with peoples' right to assemble," Supervisor Pat Herrity said in a statement.
The proposed zoning ordinance limits "group assembly" at residences to 49 people a day. Such gatherings "shall not occur more frequently than three times in any 40-day period."
County officials say they have received complaints about group meetings at homes. But Herrity said "they haven't even reached 1 percent of the thousands of complaints our Department of Code Compliance investigates a year."
"This is yet another instance where we appear to be punishing the many for the actions of the few," said Herrity, who reported a total of six complaints were received last year.
Church groups, scouting organizations or even sports fans drawn to a home's big-screen TV during playoffs could be potential targets of the proposed county law. Realtors worry that even open houses would invite civil penalties.
John Whitehead, an attorney and president of the civil-libertarian Rutherford Institute, calls the Fairfax plan "nefarious."
Today on The Real Story, Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl called it the classic clash between the First Amendment versus zoning ordinances. These regulations are usually applied to public places.
In 2012, a pastor in Phoenix, Arizona was arrested and jailed for holding a bible study in his house. The city cited zoning and proper permitting for the punishment.
Wiehl predicted that there will be an influx of lawsuits if the Virginia law is passed.
Watch the full 'Real Story' segment above.