SIXTH APPEALS COURT TELLS KENTUCKY GOVERNOR CEASE AND DESIST ASSAULT ON CHURCH
Sixth Circuit Temporarily Blocks Kentucky Governor's Limit on Drive-In Church Services
The court concludes that it likely violates the Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Free Exercise Clause, chiefly because the Governor's order has many exceptions for various allowed services.
The court also suggests the limit on in-person church services may be invalid, but concludes that the matter should be considered further by the trial court-rather than by this emergency appeal-given "the 24 hours the plaintiffs have given us with this case." Here's the heart of the opinion in Maryville Baptist Church v. Beshear, handed down by Judges Sutton, McKeague, and Nalbandian:
Maryville Baptist Church and its pastor, Dr. Jack Roberts, appeal the district court's order denying their emergency motion for a temporary restraining order. The Church claims that the district court's order effectively denied their motion for a preliminary injunction to stop Governor Andy Beshear and other Commonwealth officials from enforcing and applying two COVID-19 orders.
The orders, according to the Church, prohibit its members from gathering for drive-in and in-person worship services regardless of whether they meet or exceed the social distancing and hygiene guidelines in place for permitted commercial and other non-religious activities. The Church moves for an injunction pending appeal, which the Attorney General supports as amicus curiae. The Governor opposes the motion.
(HISTORIC NOTE: FIRST TIME Public Advocate is quoting Reason Magazine!)