Sixth Circuit Reinstates Governor’s Closure of Kentucky Schools
From Kentucky ex rel. Danville Christian Academy, Inc. v. Beshear, decided today by Judges Karen Nelson Moore, John Rogers, and Helene White (see here for the District Court order which this reverses):
This is an appeal from a preliminary injunction, primarily based on the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, against enforcement of a COVID-19-related executive order by Governor Andrew G. Beshear prohibiting in-person instruction at all public and private elementary and secondary schools in the Commonwealth…. The order excepts from its requirements “small group in-person targeted services” and “private schools conducted in a home solely for members of that household.” The order also excepts, by omission, both preschools and colleges or universities.
As the Governor explains, elementary and secondary schools pose unique problems for public health officials responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Compliance with masking and social distancing requirements is difficult to maintain, and students receiving in-person instruction must in any event remove their facial coverings to eat. The Commonwealth is particularly vulnerable to these problems, as it “leads the nation in children living with relatives other than their parents—including grandparents and great-grandparents, who are especially vulnerable to the disease.” …
“The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, which has been applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment, provides that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ….'” Chu
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