Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Turkey Week: School Daze In Kentucky

Several Christian K-12 schools are suing Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, saying his ordering of schools to go to remote teaching (as the state reaches record COVID case levels and hospitalizations mind you) violates the Frist Amendment's right to freedom of religion, somehow, as GOP AG Daniel Cameron tries once again to strip all power from the executive.
Beshear on Wednesday announced a set of new executive orders meant to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Kentucky, which last week saw another stretch of record-setting days for new positive cases.

One order requires the state's private and public K-12 schools to hold only virtual classes until Jan. 4.

Elementary schools not in "red" counties, which average 25 or more new daily cases per 100,000 residents, can resume in-person classes Dec. 7 as long as they follow the state's "Healthy At School" guidance, according to Beshear's order.

Beshear also unveiled new restrictions on bars, restaurants, gyms, indoor gatherings, weddings, funerals and other activities. Those orders and capacity limits took effect at 5 p.m. Friday and run through Dec. 13.

Specifically, Wiest said he is representing various parents and their children who seek to overturn the indoor gathering limit on no more than eight people from two households.

Danville Christian Academy and Cameron, a Republican who is the state's chief law enforcement officer, argue in their suit that Beshear's order violates the constitutional rights of religious schools and Kentucky's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

In response to the lawsuit, Beshear spokesperson Crystal Staley noted the Kentucky Supreme Court unanimously upheld earlier this month the governor's authority to issue executive orders in a public health emergency.

The Supreme Court ruling was a defeat for Cameron, who had joined challengers in arguing Beshear overstepped his authority and bypassed the state General Assembly when issuing orders this year in response to the pandemic.
Both Beshear's office and Cameron's office expect to prevail, but this is a pretty solid test of Kentucky's Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Again, if Cameron wins here, expect a lot more churches and religious groups to simply they are immune from state laws and regulations.

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