TOPEKA, Kan. — The Kansas Supreme Court has upheld Gov. Laura Kelly’s executive order, which limits religious gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic, by striking down state lawmakers’ move to revoke the order.
On April 7, the Tuesday before Easter, Gov. Kelly announced an executive order that banned gatherings of more than 10, essentially stopping in-person church services. Her original “stay-at-home” order did not apply to religious gatherings.
The next day, the Legislative Coordinating Council voted 5-2 to revoke her executive order. The move came after Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a Republican, discouraging law enforcement agencies and prosecutors statewide from attempting to enforce the requirements.
State health officials bashed the legislative move, saying it was against the interest of state residents’ safety.
Gov. Kelly sued the legislative panel on April 9, asking the Kansas Supreme Court to expedite the case and hopes to have a ruling by Easter.
“The LCC purported to revoke one executive order,” the court wrote in a ruling document. “We are asked to determine whether it acted within its lawful authority. We hold that it did not.”
The court heard oral arguments on April 11, issuing the decision just after 9 p.m. before Easter Sunday. The ruling states that, in this case, Congress had not given the LLC the authority to revoke the order.
The Court’s decision did not address several other issues that had been mentioned in the parties’ written filings—including whether the Legislature’s attempt to give the LCC authority to act while it was away from Topeka was lawful and whether the Governor’s order infringed on religious freedom.