The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has decided that Missouri does not have the proper jurisdiction to hear a case involving televangelist Jim Bakker and religious rights.
Jim Bakker has been accused of misleading customers. Bakker attempted to sell "Silver Solution, claiming that it would eliminate a strain of COVID-19 within 12 hours. In March 2020, Bakker claimed that the substance "Totally eliminates it, kills it, deactivates it, and then it boosts your immune system."
After Bakker and his organization in Missouri made such a claim, several state attorneys general filed lawsuits against Bakker, including Arkansas, New York, and California. The New York attorney general specifically warned Bakker that he was misleading customers about the product's effectiveness and that any sales of the product would require a disclaimer stating that the product did not have the approval of the Food and Drug Administration.
This warning did not end the other lawsuits against Bakker, who has now contested them in court. Bakker's lawyer claims that the suits are an attempt to assault Bakker's religious freedom and that he was "unfairly targeted by those who want to crush his ministry and force his Christian television program off the air." Specifically, Bakker's lawyers argue that these lawsuits violate Bakker's First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
The Eighth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals has decided that Missouri does not have the jurisdiction to make such a judgment. According to Ministry Watch, "The appeals court ruled that although Bakker, his church, and Morningside Church Productions, the company that produces the Jim Bakker Show, are headquartered in Stone County, the defendants did not have the "minimum contacts" with the state necessary for Missouri to have jurisdiction over the case, upholding an earlier ruling by U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Missouri."
Earlier in June, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced that he had obtained a consent judgment against Bakker and his organization, which required returning any money made from Missouri customers. This judgment limited Bakker by requiring him not to sell the product as a way to diagnose, prevent, mitigate or cure any disease or illness to date.