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First Liberty Institute, Kentucky AG Ask Court to Stop Governor’s Order Closing Faith-Based Schools

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November 21, 2020

News Release
For Immediate Release: 11.20.20
Contact: Lacey McNiel, media@firstliberty.org
Direct: 972-941-4453

First Liberty Institute, Kentucky AG Ask Court to Stop Governor’s Order Closing Faith-Based Schools
Governor’s policy ignores CDC recommendation that schools remain open during COVID-19 pandemic

Frankfort, KY—First Liberty Institute and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron today filed for a temporary restraining order against Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear seeking to block his order prohibiting private schools, including religious schools, from holding in-person classes after Thanksgiving.  First Liberty represents Danville Christian Academy in Danville, Kentucky in the lawsuit, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

You can read the petition here.

“Governor Beshear continues to impose limits on religious gatherings that are blatantly unconstitutional,” said Roger Byron, Senior Counsel at First Liberty. “Despite repeatedly losing in court during the pandemic he has once again issued an order that violates the Constitution and puts kids at risk.  The CDC made it clear that one of the safest locations’ students can be at during the pandemic is in school.  The court should reject Governor Beshear’s order and follow the CDC and the law.”

Byron added, “We are grateful to Attorney General Cameron for his continued defense of our constitutionally protected freedoms, including religious liberty, against unlawful restrictions imposed by Governor Beshear.”

On Wednesday, November 18, 2020, Governor Beshear issued Executive Order (“EO”) 2020-969, prohibiting all public and private schools from meeting in-person beginning November 23.  The order contains no accommodations for religious education.  On the same day, Governor Beshear issued a separate EO, 2020-968, that permits secular establishments like restaurants, bars, fitness centers, and indoor recreation facilities to continue operating at limited capacity.  Governor’s orders also permit venues, event spaces, and theaters to continue operating with a maximum of 25 people per room.

As part of its religious mission, Danville Christian Academy (“DCA”) provides pre-K through 12th grade classes at its facility in Danville.  Prior to the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, DCA collaborated with local health officials and consultants – including three medical doctors, among others – to plan the reopening and operation of the school and the safe return of its students and staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.  DCA’s reopening and operational plan was approved by the director of the Boyle County Health Department, who stated repeatedly that he approved of DCA’s plan and that DCA is “doing it right.”

On Friday, CDC Director Robert Redfield said, “The truth is, for kids K-12, one of the safest places they can be, from our perspective, is to remain in school, and it’s really important that following the data, making sure we don’t make emotional decisions about what to close and what not to close. I’m here to say clearly the data strongly supports that K-12 schools — as well as institutes of higher learning — really are not where we’re having our challenges.”

Earlier this year, in Tabernacle Baptist Church v. Beshear, First Liberty successfully challenged Governor Beshear’s discriminatory order prohibiting in-person religious services in Kentucky.

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About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is a non-profit public interest law firm and the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact Lacey McNiel at media@firstliberty.org or by calling 972-941-4453.

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