A Kansas federal court judge issued a temporary restraining order Saturday against a Democrat Kansas governor’s executive order limiting church gatherings to ten people at a time, according to a report.
The ruling came a week after the Supreme Court of Kansas sided with Democrat Gov. Laura Kelly, who saw her executive order get overruled by a Republican-led state legislature.
“We are in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic,” the governor said, according to the Associated Press. “This is not about religion. This is about a public health crisis.” She added that the ruling was “preliminary” and said she would be “proactive” about protecting the public during a public health crisis.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, on the other hand, supported the court’s decision.
“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,” he said. “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.”
The Kansas City Star reported that the state court had not made a ruling on the constitutionality of Kelly’s order, which led to two federal lawsuits on behalf of two churches and their respective pastors.
The judge noted that the order specifically banned church gatherings, but not similar activities such as congregating at an airport, violating the First Amendment and the state’s religious freedom law.
Churches are still required by law to practice social distancing measures, including taking parishioners’ temperatures and sanitizing the building before and after gatherings.
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) represented both churches in the case —First Baptist Church in Dodge City and Calvary Baptist Church in Junction City.
ADF senior counsel Ryan Tucker said his clients are pleased with the outcome.
“In light of the court’s order, we hope the governor will act quickly to remedy the unconstitutional provision of her mass gathering ban and avoid the need for continued litigation,” Tucker said in a news release.