The GOP-led Kansas statehouse voted Wednesday to rescind a coronavirus-related cap that would have limited religious gatherings during the week of Passover and Easter to 10 people, according to The Wichita Eagle.
Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly put the order in place on Tuesday, making the prohibition an immediate target of state lawmakers who say the measure violated religious liberty.
“There are real-life consequences to the partisan games Republicans played today,” Kelly told The Wichita Eagle.
Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle said the order from Kelly was unnecessary since most people weren't likely to attend church anyway.
“I think they were just very upset with the fact that the government was going to tell them that they couldn’t practice their religion,” Wagle said.
One GOP congressional candidate, Adrienne Vallejo Foster, a Republican congressional candidate, even urged sheriffs not to enforce the order.
Richard Levy, a University of Kansas constitutional law professor, concluded that legal precedent would probably side with Kelly since the Supreme Court has ruled that similar laws are acceptable.
“If it’s possible to document that small religious gatherings had led to the spread of the coronavirus in a way that other gatherings have not, then there is a chance that the court would say singling out religious gatherings satisfies even strict scrutiny,” Levy said. In such cases, he added, “it’s not about suppressing religion. It’s about the realities of the coronavirus.”
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