December 8, 2020 - Tuesday
In Kentucky, Some Schools are More Equal than Others
December 8, 2020
This year's Christmas break will be a little different for schools. A lot of students are already home -- and liberal governors are working overtime to send more there, senators warn.
In Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear (D) closed classrooms early, telling religious schools in particular that the coronavirus was too much of a risk for in-person learning. The order came down just as families were getting ready for Thanksgiving, and it's been a dogfight in the state ever since. Kentuckians, after all, have watched what's happened in liberal dictatorships like California, where locals can't even eat turkey with their families in peace -- and they're determined to stop the Bluegrass State from walking the same path.
Danville Christian School was so outraged by the order that it decided to sue. Within weeks, they've won an emergency injunction in federal court, lost it in an appellate court, and are now headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Late Friday, after Justice Brett Kavanaugh asked for the governor's rationale, Beshear's legal team replied: "Confronting an airborne, infectious disease is a collective endeavor. COVID-19 cares little if a child attends a religious or secular school. The risks emanating from in-person instruction at K-12 schools are unique and extend to students, staffs and their families; community members who interact with these individuals; and those who are unable to obtain treatment for other illnesses because hospitals have curtailed procedures or closed operating rooms."
Every school, the governor said later, is being treated equally. But the point, Danville Christian and state Attorney General David Cameron (R) have argued, is that schools aren't being treated equally where other institutions are concerned. This is a "direct infringement on the First Amendment rights we all hold so dear," Cameron insisted.
And 38 members of the U.S. Senate agreed. In a brief to the Supreme Court, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell led the battle to protect the constitutional rights of his home state. Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.), one of the signatories, says he's optimistic -- especially after what the justices did to stop Governor Andrew Cuomo's (D) ridiculous restrictions in New York.
"The court stepped in just right before Thanksgiving in New York and stated that the governor of New York can't say that bars and bike shops can be open, but churches cannot be open in certain zones. They've done the same thing now to California... and said you can't just declare that churches are higher risk than other locations, so I'm going to close them down... And then now this situation in Kentucky, where if you're a religious school, you're being blocked out on that. So we're pushing back in the courts so far in California and New York ... I'm confident they will in Kentucky as well."
Interestingly enough, the California state attorney general who's been so adamant about cracking down on churches is none other than Xavier Becerra (D), Joe Biden's radical pick to lead HHS. "It is plain and simple religious discrimination," Lankford insisted. "That's what made [it] so appalling in California, especially with Xavier Becerra stepping out and saying if people sing and gather in places, [there's a] higher risk."
Of course, as Lankford pointed out, they don't mind if people gather in other places. "... [I]t's okay to be able to go to the store. It's okay to be able to go to a bowling alley... but just don't gather and worship places, because it doesn't meet his preference to be able to do that."
In Kentucky, it's the same issue. "The governor very specifically stated that he doesn't want schools to be able to meet -- even if they're religious institution... But he's still allowed other preschools to be open. There've [still allowed] a lot of the stores to be open, other businesses to be open. And so, again, you can't just step in and say... as the governor did in Kentucky, religious institutions have to close because that's the governor's preference. Thankfully, the United States Constitution supersedes the governor and people of faith, no matter what faith that may be."
Fortunately, we finally have a court that agrees with the Constitution and will defend it. That's all thanks to President Trump and Senate Republicans, who saw what was happening in activist courts and made it a priority to restore some balance to the bench. Now, we have it -- and in cases like this, it makes all the difference.
For more on the Left's march to shut down churches and faith-based groups, check out my interview with Newsmax from earlier in the week.
Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.