Christian schools urge US Supreme Court to end KY governor’s school shutdown

ADF attorneys file friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of schools representing 4,600+ students in challenge to COVID-19 school closures
Friday, December 04, 2020

WASHINGTON – On behalf of 17 Kentucky Christian schools representing more than 4,600 students, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a friend-of-the-court brief Friday with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of another Christian school’s lawsuit challenging Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive order that temporarily shut down all private religious schools in the state due to COVID-19 but left non-religious establishments open for business.

“As the U.S. Supreme Court said in its recent order halting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order in New York, ‘even in a pandemic,’ the First Amendment is not ‘put away and forgotten,” said ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch. “The Kentucky governor’s order allows movie theaters, indoor event venues, gyms, childcare centers, and professional offices to operate, but private Christian schools cannot, even when they comply with all recommended public health and safety guidelines. That’s why we are asking high court to put a stop to the governor’s unconstitutional edict.”

“Government discriminatory treatment of religion must end. Now,” the ADF brief in Danville Christian Academy v. Beshear states. “In the nine months since the COVID-19 pandemic began, state executives have consistently imposed more severe burdens on religious conduct than comparable secular activities. They do so without any showing that religious activities present a greater COVID-19 risk than their secular comparators. Instead, governments have consistently favored commerce over religion and—often with a judicial seal of approval—have cloaked their disparate treatment of religious worship and education in terms like ‘emergency police powers’ and ‘substantial discretion.’”

ADF attorneys are litigating a case in Oregon on behalf of a Christian school challenging Gov. Katherine Brown’s order shuttering religious schools in that state. In a separate case, ADF attorneys represent a Nevada church challenging an executive order issued by that state’s governor which treats churches worse than casinos and other secular businesses.

Bryan H. Beauman of Sturgill, Turner, Barker & Moloney, PLLC, and Greg Thornton of Ward, Hocker & Thornton PLLC are local counsel on the brief for the 17 churches.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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