High Court Denies Request to Reopen Kentucky Religious School | Don’t miss it
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to block an order by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear banning in-person kindergarten to grade 12 education through early January in areas hard hit by COVID-19, dismissing a plea of ‘a private religious school.
The court said in an unsigned notice that Beshear’s order would expire at the end of the week anyway, as schools are about to start their Christmas vacation and may reopen in early January. A ruling against the state “would have little practical effect,” the court said.
Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch were dissenting. Gorsuch noted that the governor issued a separate order allowing âvirtually all other in-person activities to continue with only capacity restrictions. Cinemas, indoor wedding venues, bowling alleys and game rooms remained open to the public.
The Danville Christian Academy had sued Beshear after announcing the closures in November in response to the increase in COVID-19 cases in the state. His order applied to public and private schools. The county in which Danville Christian Academy is located has one of the highest coronavirus incidence rates in the state, with 113.6 cases per 100,000 population.
The school said she was being treated unfairly under Kentucky law and the U.S. Constitution. A district court agreed, blocking the order, but the Cincinnati federal appeals court allowed Beshear’s order to remain in effect.
Beshear said all schools are treated the same. Speaking at a press conference in Kentucky around the time the court ruled, he said: “By no means were religious schools treated any differently, we asked everyone to make the same sacrifice. “
Kentucky continues to suffer from the pandemic. The governor on Thursday announced a record 54 new confirmed deaths linked to COVID-19 and 3,349 new confirmed cases of coronavirus. Hospital capacity for intensive care beds is equal to or greater than 80% in four regions of the state.
Kelly Shackelford, president and senior advisor to the First Liberty Institute, the law firm that represented Danville Christian Academy, has vowed to sue the governor if the order is reinstated.
“Rest assured, if the governor does it on January 4, we will immediately testify against him,” Shackelford said in a statement.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron echoed Shackleford’s warning in a statement Thursday evening, urging the governor to “carefully consider future executive measures related to religious schools.”
On Monday, Beshear announced new public health guidelines for in-person learning in counties with high COVID-19 rates. Schools that comply can resume in-person learning on January 11.