Attorney general files brief supporting church’s lawsuit against governor

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Daniel Cameron

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Attorney General Daniel Cameron Wednesday filed an amicus brief in support of a Bullitt County church’s lawsuit against Governor Andy Beshear’s ban on religious services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The brief, filed in Maryville Baptist Church v. Beshear, argues that Governor Beshear’s March 19 and March 25 executive orders mandate a broad ban against faith-based activity throughout the Commonwealth, while allowing secular activities and organizations to continue operation.

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The attorney general says the March 19 order expressly lists faith-based gatherings as a type of mass gathering that is banned during the pandemic. Cameron says the order is written as broadly as possible, leaving no doubt that all faith-based gatherings are illegal.

In the March 25 follow-up order, Governor Beshear closed all organizations that are not life-sustaining. In the order, the attorney general claims the governor failed to identify faith-based gatherings as those that sustain life, despite identifying 19 other categories of activities that are allowed to continue operation. When Maryville Baptist Church did not close, Governor Beshear ordered the taking of worshippers license plate numbers.

“Both the Constitution and state law protect the rights of our citizens, of all faiths and backgrounds, to freely worship as they see fit,” said Attorney General Cameron.

“If a church wishes to hold an in-person service to practice their faith, they should be allowed to do so consistent with CDC recommendations. Other states have narrowly tailored their orders to protect the First Amendment rights of citizens while also discouraging the spread of COVID-19. Governor Beshear’s unnecessarily broad orders fail to strike this important balance,” Cameron said.

The attorney general has called on Governor Beshear to rescind the executive orders targeting faith-based gatherings. If the governor fails to rescind them, Attorney General Cameron says plans to file a lawsuit regarding the constitutionality of the orders.

To view a copy of the amicus brief, click here.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.