Thursday, May 07, 2020

Kentucky Governor Sued By Church and State AG Over COVID-19 Restrictions On Services

A church filed suit yesterday in a Kentucky federal district court challenging Kentucky Governor Andrew Beshear's COVID-19 Orders which bans in-person religious services but allows businesses categorized as "life-sustaining" to remain open with proper social distancing. The complaint (full text) in Tabernacle Baptist Church, Inc. of Nicholasville, Kentucky v. Beshear, (ED KY, filed 5/6/2020) alleges in part:
The exception in Governor Beshear’s order for “life-sustaining” businesses allows shopping malls, grocery stores, hardware stores, law firms, laundromats, liquor stores, and gun shops to continue to operate without fear of state police taking adverse action against participants in such endeavors, so long as they follow social-distancing and other health-related precautions. Businesses allowed to operate (like retail stores, for instance) have no numerical limitations or other restrictions that would cap the number of people who can gather together indoors. Defendants have thus deemed it safe to walk down an aisle in a grocery store, but not an aisle between pews, and to interact with a delivery woman, but not with a minister.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced that he has filed a complaint (full text of complaint) seeking to intervene as a plaintiff opposing the Governor's Orders.  In his announcement, the Attorney General said in part:
The Governor continued his arbitrary and unlawful targeting of faith-based groups when he announced last week that some businesses, including dog groomers, horse races, manufacturers, and car dealerships, can reopen as early as May 11, nine days before houses of worship can reopen.  The law requires religious services to be treated no differently than secular activity, as long as those participating follow appropriate Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) recommendations.
Thus a Republican state attorney general is pitted against a Democratic governor in federal court. WKYT News reports on the lawsuit.