In the waning days of 2020, as COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts were summiting the highest peak of the pandemic, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) of Massachusetts decided that the First Amendment’s Assembly Clause does not protect private assembly by private citizens in “private homes.” According to the state’s high court, whether, when, and how the citizens of Massachusetts may gather in each other’s dens and bedrooms are all questions of “significant government interest” to the state’s governor, and are therefore within his regulatory power.

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