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AG Derek Schmidt statement on federal court order barring enforcement of Governor Kelly's restrictions on religious gatherings against churches that sued

Release Date: Apr 18, 2020

TOPEKA -- (April 18, 2020) - Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt issued the following statement in response to the temporary restraining order issued tonight by the U.S. District Court, which prohibits enforcement of Governor Kelly’s Executive Orders (EO 20-18 and EO 20-25) against churches that sued. The orders restrict religious gatherings to 10 or fewer people:

“Today's judicial ruling is a much-needed reminder that the Constitution is not under a stay-home order and the Bill of Rights cannot be quarantined. The Constitution protects our liberties especially during times of crisis, when history reveals governments too quick to sacrifice rights of the few to calm fears of the many. As I have consistently counseled, the governor of Kansas must not discriminate against religious gatherings by threatening worshipers with arrest or imprisonment while allowing similar secular gatherings to proceed.

“Let me be clear: My own view remains that churches, synagogues, temples and mosques should cancel all in-person services and instead worship remotely at this time. I strongly urge all Kansas religious leaders to do so. But as a government official, I may not impose that preference selectively on Kansans of faith but not others. Neither may Governor Kelly.

“I call on Governor Kelly to accept the court’s decision tonight and end this unnecessary legal fight that is costing taxpayers thousands of dollars in attorney fees without demonstrable public health benefit."

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News releases issued prior to 2011 are available through an archive hosted by the Kansas State Library.