Ky. AG Cameron files brief in response to appeal keeping religious, private schools closed

Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Governor Andy Beshear (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Governor Andy Beshear (Source: WAVE 3 News)(WAVE)
Published: Nov. 28, 2020 at 3:43 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WAVE) - Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed a brief before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Saturday in response to an appeal by Governor Beshear to keep private, religious schools closed for in-person learning.

An executive order was signed by Beshear requiring all schools to halt in-person classes in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 within Kentucky, starting November 23 and ending December 13.

Following the executive order, a lawsuit was filed on November 20 by Cameron and Danville Christian Academy in Danville, Ky. In the lawsuit, a temporary restraining order was asked to be put in place against the order for religious and private schools.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove ruled Wednesday the order stands for public schools nationwide, but that religious and private schools were exempt from that order.

Beshear’s office appealed to the Sixth Circuit on Thursday in an attempt to block Judge Van Tatenhove’s ruling, and a spokesperson said the case would be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

Cameron responded that the Sixth Circuit had already ruled the governor could not target religious activities for harsh treatment, referencing the Maryville Baptist Church lawsuit earlier in the year.

“The District Court’s ruling was incredibly clear, a religious education is an important component of religious expression and is protected by the U.S. Constitution,” Attorney General Cameron said in a release.  “In a separate case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that governors cannot impose more stringent restrictions on religious institutions than they do on secular gatherings, which Governor Beshear is currently doing in Kentucky by banning in-person instruction at religious schools.  It’s deeply troubling that, after receiving such rulings, the Governor continues to believe that he can target religious schools and is even claiming that he has the power to suspend state law protecting Kentuckians’ religious liberty.  We’ll continue to take all necessary steps to push back against his unconstitutional actions in court and to defend the religious liberties of all Kentuckians.”

In a series of tweets on Thursday, Cameron argued that Beshear ignored a New York ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court blocking efforts by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to restrict gatherings at houses of worship.

Cameron’s office said more than 20 religious schools from across the commonwealth, as well as Ky. Treasurer Allision Ball, have filed amicus briefs in support of Cameron and Danville Christian Academy.

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