A Kentucky church that defied Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s ban on free assembly is filing a federal lawsuit asserting that its constitutional rights were violated.
Officers of the Kentucky State Police recorded license plate numbers at The Maryville Baptist Church while about 50 members attended an Easter service in person and threatened to quarantine them.
The church’s attorney, Matthew Staver of Liberty Counsel, said the church was targeted. Constitutional attorney Mitchell Denham disagrees, saying he believes the law may be on the Democratic governor’s side.
“There are limits to those (Constitutional) rights,” Denham said.
Staver countered, telling WAVE 3 News: “Even in times of this pandemic, you don’t lose your constitutional rights. To actually target individuals because the name on the outside of the building is a church rather than a Home Depot, Walmart, Kmart or Kroger is unconstitutional.”
Denham said Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter 39-A gives Beshear the authority to disperse crowds during a state of emergency, like a pandemic. He said Beshear, the former attorney general, knew how to craft the order and keep it legal by making it broad to any gathering, not specific to a religious institution.
At the same time, Denham said, the executive order had to be specifically tailored to preventing the spread of a potentially deadly virus.
The Liberty Counsel said it was Beshear’s goal to focus on churches. “We know what he intended,” Staver said. “He was very public about it. He didn’t try to hide anything. He’s not executed that against any other commercial organization. It’s only against churches. That’s what he wanted. That’s what he did that’s unconstitutional