Arguments in Governor Laura Kelly’s lawsuit against legislative leaders who overturned her executive order banning religious and funeral services of more than 10 attendees during the coronavirus pandemic are set to be heard by the Kansas Supreme Court on Saturday.
When a Republican-dominated legislative panel overturned the Democratic governor, she said that the, “last thing” she wants to do is to get involved in a legal dispute amongst the many challenges of this pandemic but the legislative panel’s ruling, gave her filing a lawsuit as her only option with how to move forward to protect the health of the people of Kansas.
During a news conference on Thursday, the governor said, “I will not stand by when lives are in jeopardy, and I will not allow the rule of law or the constitution to be trampled on during an emergency.” She asked the Supreme Court to expedite the case with the goal to have a ruling by this upcoming Easter Sunday because historically, in the United States, Easter Sunday is the most-attended church service of the year.
In general, Governor Kelly and the legislative panel have a consensus that worshipers should stay home and watch livestream religious services during the pandemic. What they disagree on is whether or not the state has the constitutional authority to mandate this in a state-wide order.
On Monday, state officials reported that Kansas now has 11 coronavirus clusters across six counties. The secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Lee Norman said that three of the clusters are tied to three church gatherings. COVID-19, the serious and highly contagious illness caused by the coronavirus that has already claimed 50 lives in the state with the number of confirmed cases at 1,166. Norman expressed concern over in-person Easter celebrations helping to spread the virus.
Republican Senate President, Susan Wagle gave a written statement that defended the panel’s vote.
Mr. Norman is urging people everywhere to stay home because new research is showing that the virus is even more easily transmissible than initially believed. He said, “We cannot blink… We have to keep pusing on this.”
This will be the first time ever that the Kansas Supreme Court will hear arguments via video conference. It will be broadcast over YouTube.