FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Supreme Court allowed Gov. Andy Beshear's temporary order on schools to stand Thursday, but Attorney General Daniel Cameron said the decision was not an endorsement of the mandate and its impact on religious schools.
The Supreme Court opinion noted the governor's order was set to expire by the end of the week with no indication it would be renewed.
In a statement, Attorney General Daniel Cameron wrote in part, "While the court chose not to take immediate action because the Governor's order expires soon, the court in no way endorsed the Governor's unconstitutional targeting of religious schools."
"We urge the Governor to heed this warning and to carefully consider future executive action related to religious schools," the statement continues.
In November, Gov. Beshear announced temporary restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including a requirement that all middle and high schools, including religious, switch to virtual instruction through January 4.
A suit brought by Danville Christian Academy and Attorney General Cameron claimed the order violated the constitutional rights of religious schools as other venues and businesses were allowed to remain open to in-person visits.
A Kentucky district court blocked the order but the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay to leave the order in effect.
The Supreme Court opinion included dissents by Justice Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. Justice Gorsuch wrote that the Sixth Circuit decision ignored the governor's orders on businesses and only looked at his orders on schools.
Attorneys for Danville Christian Academy fully intend to pick the case up again if Governor Beshear passes further executive orders that affect religious schools, said Hiram Sasser, Executive General Counsel for First Liberty Institute.
"Gov. Beshear is not going to be able to do this again," he said. "We're going to have to wait and see what he decides to do. if he decides to test the Supreme Court's resolve then we'll go ahead and have to proceed with the case."
Gov. Beshear learned of the decision during his briefing Thursday. At the time, he said he had not had a chance to read it, but said his orders applied to schools equally.