Knights Of Columbus Prevail In Battle To Hold Memorial Day Mass At National Cemetery

The Knights of Columbus will be holding their annual Memorial Day Mass at the Poplar Grove National Cemetery in Virginia after pushing back against the Biden administration’s National Park Service (NPS) which had initially banned the longstanding tradition. The Catholic fraternity has staged the service at the cemetery every year for multiple decades but faced opposition this year due to a 2022 policy change under the current administration.

The NPS had categorized the Mass as a prohibited “demonstration” because it is a religious service leading the Knights to file a temporary restraining order against the agency. However, on Thursday afternoon the NPS granted a permit allowing the Knights to proceed with the Mass on Monday as planned.

“We are grateful to the NPS for allowing the Knights to hold their service this Memorial Day” said John Moran, a partner with the law firm McGuireWoods — they represented the Knights in the dispute.

Roger Byron, senior counsel at First Liberty Institute who also represented the Knights, expressed appreciation for the support of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) and Attorney General Jason Miyares in the case.

The Knights had argued that the NPS was misapplying its own regulations and violating their First Amendment rights as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The agency had suggested the group hold the Mass outside the cemetery near the parking lot but the Knights deemed this “unreasonable unnecessary and unconstitutional.

The reversal by the NPS comes after the Knights’ Petersburg Council 694 filed the temporary restraining order in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.