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Amid public outrage, Fairfax will back off home assembly limits

Bowing to a public backlash, Fairfax County officials likely will kill a proposal limiting the size and number of gatherings at private residences.

“The results of the first two hearings were overwhelmingly against,” Supervisor Pat Herrity said.

“I believe the board will shut it down on June 10.”

As reported by Watchdog.org, Herrity was the first to call attention to the staff-written plan that would restrict “home assemblies” to no more than 49 people. The proposal also would limit gatherings to a maximum of three in a 40-day span.

“If people hadn’t shown up (at the public hearings) and spoken out, I don’t know that this wouldn’t have moved forward,” Herrity said.

Adding to concerns raised in the original report, outraged citizens speculated the county limits would prevent school groups from meeting at homes.

Fairfax resident Adam Hiatt called the plan “a direct attack on religion, family and the political freedom to assembly granted by the First Amendment.”

John Whitehead, president and attorney at the civil-libertarian Rutherford Institute in Charlottesville, Va., termed the Fairfax gambit “nefarious.”

Opponents argued that any problems stemming from home assemblies could be addressed with existing or enhanced county ordinances covering parking, noise and regulation of commercial activity.