FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 18, 2020) – Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced the filing of an amicus brief before the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky in support of a Louisville church’s First Amendment right to hold drive-in church services during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The church, On Fire Christian Center (“On Fire”), is seeking a preliminary injunction against Louisville Metro after it sought to prohibit drive-in church services during the health crisis pursuant to a March 19 order from the Beshear administration that prohibits mass gatherings. A federal judge last week granted On Fire’s request for a temporary restraining order, allowing the church to hold a drive-in service on Easter Sunday.
The amicus brief filed by Attorney General Cameron states that the Beshear administration’s March 19 order unconstitutionally prohibits drive-in church services.
“The ability of Americans to worship is one of the bedrocks of our constitutional structure, and without it, we would not be the nation we are,” said Attorney General Cameron. “Arbitrarily targeting the practice of religion, as the Beshear administration’s order does, plainly violates the First Amendment. As long as business operations are allowed to continue during the pandemic while following social distancing guidelines, churches must be allowed to hold drive-in services without fear of targeting from their elected leaders.”
The Beshear administration’s March 19 order specifically prohibits faith-based mass gatherings, and it was this provision that Louisville Metro was attempting to enforce. The brief states that Louisville Metro’s actions violate both the First Amendment and Kentucky law because they target only churchgoers, but not other community organizations or business entities.
The brief further underscores the arbitrary nature of Louisville Metro’s attempted enforcement of the Beshear administration’s order by stating that it has not “offered an explanation as to why it is necessary to prohibit religious activities that pose exactly the same risk as similar, non-religious activities.”
There are currently three pending federal lawsuits regarding the constitutionality of the Beshear administration’s executive order as it applies to the practice of religion.
To view a copy of the amicus brief, click here.