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Amy Coney Barrett Has Another Opportunity To Remodel The Rules Covid In The Case Of Kentucky Religious Schools

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Justice Amy Coney Barrett will have a second chance to reshape COVID rules as the Kentucky attorney general asks the U.S. Supreme Court to stymie state coronavirus restrictions on in-person classes at religious schools.

Last week, Barrett played a decisive role in the Supreme Court’s ruling to bar New York from enforcing certain coronavirus restrictions on religious services.

She will now get the chance to rule on Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s case against Democrat Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive order to close classrooms in religious schools during the pandemic.

Beshear’s order closed all schools regardless of any religious affiliations from mid-November to the end of the semester. This is with the exception of elementary schools, which may reopen December 7 if they are not in a “red zone” – counties with 25 or more COVID cases per 100,000 people.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announces a grand jury’s decision to indict one of three Louisville Metro Police Department officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor on September 23, 2020. He has asked the Supreme Court to rule on a dispute over the state’s closure of religious schools.
Jon Cherry/Getty Images

The publication reported that a spokeswoman for Beshear responded to the lawsuit by highlighting how the Kentucky Supreme Court had the week before unanimously upheld the governor’s authority to issue executive orders in an emergency.

After the Circuit Court sided against Cameron, Beshear wrote on Twitter that the court had recognized how “we must all do our part over the next several weeks to slow this virus.”

He said: “While we all want to get our kids back to in-person instruction, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recognized that doing so now would endanger the health and lives of Kentucky children, educators and families. To help save more lives and defeat this virus we need everyone to do their part.”

Meanwhile, Cameron announced his intention to take the matter to the Supreme Court during an interview on Fox News the next day.

The attorney general said: “We’re ready to send our case to the Supreme Court. We’ll be applying for review by the Supreme Court hopefully today.”

Cameron told the broadcaster Beshear has infringed on First Amendment rights, adding that attending a religious school “is an act of worship within itself.”

He said: “You have to have a delicate balance in terms of keeping people safe and respecting the constitutional rights of our citizens. What [Beshear] has done repeatedly is infringe upon the First Amendment free exercise of religion here in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

Cameron then confirmed his filing with the Supreme Court in a statement saying he “asks the Court to allow to take effect a ruling by a district court judge stopping the enforcement of Governor Beshear’s order banning in-person instruction at Kentucky’s religious schools.”

The attorney general said: “Kentuckians have a First Amendment right to exercise their faith through a religious education, and we maintain that the Governor is clearly infringing upon that right by closing religious schools.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that religious institutions cannot be treated different than secular activities, and we are asking the court to simply apply the same analysis to the Governor’s disparate treatment of religious schools and other secular activities.

“We’re committed to pursuing every available option to protect the constitutional rights of Kentuckians, and today’s filing with the Supreme Court is the next step.”

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