FRANKFORT, Ky. (November 30, 2020) – Attorney General Daniel Cameron today continued his fight to safeguard the religious liberties of Kentuckians during the pandemic by filing an emergency application with the nation’s highest court in the case of Danville Christian Academy v. Beshear. In his application, the Attorney General asks the Court to allow to take effect a ruling by a district court judge stopping the enforcement of Governor Beshear’s order banning in-person instruction at Kentucky’s religious schools.
“Kentuckians have a First Amendment right to exercise their faith through a religious education, and we maintain that the Governor is clearly infringing upon that right by closing religious schools,” said Attorney General Cameron. “The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that religious institutions cannot be treated different than secular activities, and we are asking the court to simply apply the same analysis to the Governor’s disparate treatment of religious schools and other secular activities. We’re committed to pursuing every available option to protect the constitutional rights of Kentuckians, and today’s filing with the Supreme Court is the next step.”
The Attorney General’s lawsuit argues that a religious education is a core part of the freedoms protected by the First Amendment, and the Governor’s order shuttering religious schools is unconstitutional. Last week, a federal district judge agreed with the Attorney General’s position and issued a statewide preliminary injunction against the Governor’s order. The Governor appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and a three-judge panel issued a stay of the order early Sunday morning. More than 1,500 Kentucky parents and 20 religious schools joined the Attorney General in filing an amicus brief before the Court of Appeals in the case.
In the application filed before the U.S. Supreme Court today, the Attorney General notes that in deciding that the Governor’s order is neutral and generally applicable, the Court of Appeals narrowly compared religious schools only to secular schools, and “ignored Executive Order 2020-968 and the various guidance documents issued by the Governor that permit the operation of everything in Kentucky except K-12 schools and indoor consumption at bars and restaurants.”
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomothat governors cannot impose more stringent restrictions on religious institutions than they do on secular gatherings. Attorney General Cameron asks the Supreme Court to apply the same analysis to Kentucky’s religious schools and prevent the Governor from treating religious schools more harshly than secular activities, such as concert venues and movie theaters, which are allowed to continue operating.
To view a copy of the application filed with the Supreme Court, click here.