Supreme Court dismisses religious school’s challenge to Kentucky virus ordinance

The Kentucky case presented a related but separate issue. In ordering the temporary closure of all K-12 schools, Mr. Beshear did not choose religious schools.

In a lawsuit challenging the ordinance, Danville Christian Academy and Daniel Cameron, the state attorney general, a Republican, said it didn’t matter that all schools were treated the same because religious education was still subject to stricter restrictions than comparable secular activities. It violated constitutional protections for the free exercise of religion, they said.

Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove of the Federal District Court of Frankfort, Ky., agreed. “In an effort to do the right thing to combat the virus,” Judge Van Tatenhove wrote, “the governor cannot do the wrong thing by violating protected values. “

“This tribunal wonders why, under this decree, one would be free to attend a conference, to go to work or to attend a concert, but not to attend a socially remote chapel at school or to pray together in a classroom that follows strict safety and social procedures. distancing, ”wrote the judge. He issued an injunction override Mr. Beshear’s order and open religious schools.

A three-judge unanimous panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati suspended Judge Van Tatenhove’s ruling, lifting his injunction while an appeal progressed. In an unsigned notice, the panel said that a recent Supreme Court ruling overturning limits on attendance at religious services in New York “does not force a contrary result.”

“The contours of the order at issue here,” the panel wrote, “are in no way correlated with religion and cannot be plausibly interpreted as containing even a suspicion of hostility towards religion.”

By asking the Supreme Court to intervene, the challengers urged the judges take into account how secular activities in the state have been treated.

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