Beshear appeals order allowing religious schools to reopen

Gov. Andy Beshear
Gov. Andy Beshear

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear has appealed a federal judge’s ruling that religious schools are exempt from the state’s order to close all schools in the state.

Danville Christian Academy and Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed a lawsuit challenging the governor’s order last Friday.

The judge ruled Wednesday night that even though the governor’s order was well-intentioned, it infringes on the free exercise of religion.

But the governor argues it was erroneous for the judge to conclude that requiring the schools to engage in remote instruction for about 15 days would be a substantial burden on their religious beliefs.

“Under the District Court’s reasoning, any individual holding a sincere religious belief may be excused from complying with neutral and generally applicable public health measures that interfere with their belief, even during an emergency,” Beshear says in the motion for a stay. “Moreover, the District Court erroneously concluded that requiring remote instruction for about 15 days is a substantial burden on plaintiffs’ religious beliefs — despite the fact that the plaintiffs were engaged in remote instruction for two months in the spring and two weeks leading up to the executive order. By granting special privileges to religious schools, the District Court has impermissibly favored specific religious sects, in violation of the Establishment Clause.”

Beshear is asking the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to issue a stay blocking the judge’s ruling.

The court has given Cameron and Danville Christian until 10 a.m. Saturday to file a response.