Governor Sues Her Own State's Lawmakers

Kansas Republicans revoked executive order limiting religious gatherings
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2020 11:06 AM CDT
Governor Sues Her Own State's Lawmakers
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly answers questions from reporters at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kansas, on March 17.   (AP Photo/John Hanna)

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is suing Republican lawmakers who overturned her executive order limiting church gatherings in the state. The Democratic governor signed the order Tuesday limiting services to no more than 10 people, but a GOP-controlled legislative council revoked it the following day, citing religious freedom. "The last thing I want right now is a legal battle," but "Kansas lives are on the line," said Kelly, per the Kansas City Star. She said she is appealing the "shockingly irresponsible" decision to the state Supreme Court. Kelly argues a resolution passed by the Legislature giving the seven-member legislative council the power to revoke her orders is unconstitutional. The council says it actually agrees with Kelly that residents should stay home over Easter and Passover and that churches should offer online services.

“But, this is where we disagree: Kansans should not be arrested for practicing their faith,” it says in a statement. One member, House Speaker Ron Ryckman, says the council would support the order with assurances that violators would not face criminal penalties but that Kelly has not yet agreed, per the Washington Post. A state health official says three of the state's 12 coronavirus clusters stem from church gatherings. In revoking the order, which built upon an earlier ban on large gatherings, the council created some confusion on what aspects remained in place and which had been overruled. However, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt told police not to enforce the order as it applies to church gatherings. The court is expected to issue an expedited ruling before Easter Sunday. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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