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Federal court issues temporary restraining order on Gov. Kelly's order limiting religious gatherings

Photo: MGN
Photo: MGN(WHSV)
Published: Apr. 18, 2020 at 8:18 PM CDT
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(EDITORIAL NOTE: The Associated Press reported that the the temporary retraining order applies to all Kansas churches. According to court documents and Governor Laura Kelly, the ruling only applies to First Baptist Church in Dodge City and Calvary Baptist Church in Junction City.)

A federal judge issued a limited temporary restraining order on Governor Kelly's order banning religious gatherings of ten or more people.

The ruling was made by Judge John W. Broomes Saturday evening.

Kelly responded, saying, "This is not about religion. This is about a public health crisis,” Kelly said. “This ruling was just a preliminary step. There is still a long way to go in this case, and we will continue to be proactive and err on the side of caution where Kansans’ health and safety is at stake.”

A telephone conference call had be arranged to hear arguments from attorneys.

Broomes also set a time for a preliminary injunction hearing on Wednesday at the federal courthouse in Wichita.

The churches and their pastors filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against Kelly, arguing that the directive violates their religious and free-speech rights, as well as their right to assembly.

"The government is right to try to protect peoples' health and their safety, but they have to do it evenhandedly, and they have to do it in accordance with the Constitution," said Tyson Langhofer, with Alliance for Defending Freedom.

The Legislative Coordinating Council previously revoked the order, bringing a lawsuit from Kelly to reinstate it.

The Kansas Supreme Court side stepped the religious freedom question, instead ruling the LCC did not have authority to make its decision.