Beshear Submits Response to Religious School Lawsuit to Judge Kavanaugh | News

In a brief filed today with the U.S. Supreme Court, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear defends his executive order requiring private schools — alongside public schools — to temporarily suspend in-person classes due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Beshear on Friday submitted to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh a response to Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s request for the Supreme Court to decide whether the governor can order religious private schools to halt in-person classes due to the pandemic. .

A recent executive order from the governor temporarily bans all public and private schools in the state from having in-person classes, as part of an attempt to reverse the rising tide of new coronavirus cases across the Commonwealth. Cameron joined the lawsuit of a Christian school in Kentucky claiming the order violated the First Amendment rights of religious schools. On November 25, a federal judge ruled in favor of Cameron, but the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision.

In response, Cameron filed an emergency petition with the United States Supreme Court asking the High Court to rule on the matter. Kavanaugh gave Beshear until Friday to file his response.

The governor’s legal team submitted that response on Friday, noting that the order meets the free exercise standard because it applies equally to secular and religious schools, and is a necessary step to repel the outbreak of COVID-19.

In part, the governor’s legal team writes, “Dealing with an airborne infectious disease is a collective enterprise – COVID-19 cares little whether a child attends a religious or secular school. The risks emanating from in-person instruction in K-12 schools are unique and reach out to students, staff, and their families; members of the community who interact with these people; and those who cannot get treatment for other illnesses because hospitals have reduced procedures or closed operating rooms.”

In a statement posted Friday night on social media, the governor says Kentucky is in the midst of a “deadly third wave of coronavirus.”

“We have taken the necessary steps to slow the growth of cases and save the lives of our fellow Kentucky people,” Beshear writes. “In the latest executive order regarding schools, every school is treated equally and everyone is asked to do their part over a limited period of time to slow the spread of the virus. The effectiveness of these actions requires the participation of everyone, and anyone or any entity that tries to be the exception diminishes the effectiveness of the measures.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, along with 36 other Senate Republicans, filed their own briefs with the Supreme Court in support of Cameron’s lawsuit. Despite the Sixth Circuit’s ruling that the order does not violate religious freedoms, the senators call the executive order “the selective and overzealous targeting of religious institutions” in a Friday night press release. Although religious and public K-12 schools are mandated to close in the executive order, senators say it is unfair to force religious K-12 schools to close while allowing preschools and middle schools to remain open.

Read the Governor’s response submitted to the Supreme Court:

Read the Republican senators’ brief in response to the executive order:

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