Judge blocks Kansas COVID-19 rule for two churches

A federal judge rejects Gov. Laura Kelly's order prohibiting mass gatherings at churches. The judge has a hearing scheduled for Thursday to determine whether he should issue a broader injunction.

By

State News

April 20, 2020 - 9:52 AM

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly Photo by Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service / kcur.org

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge signaled that he believes there’s a good chance that Kansas is violating religious freedom and free speech rights with a coronavirus-inspired 10-person limit on in-person attendance at religious services or activities and he blocked its enforcement against two churches that sued over it.

The ruling Saturday from U.S. District Judge John Broomes in Wichita prevents the enforcement of an order issued by Gov. Laura Kelly against a church in Dodge City in western Kansas and one in Junction City in northeast Kansas. The judge’s decision will remain in effect until May 2; he has a hearing scheduled Thursday in the lawsuit filed against Kelly by the two churches and their pastors, on whether he should issue a longer-term or broader injunction. 

Kelly continued to defend her order in a statement: “This is not about religion. This is about a public health crisis.”

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