Sens. Cruz, McConnell Fight for First Amendment Rights During Pandemic, Slam Kentucky Governor for Restricting Religious Institutions
Highlights Fridays Supreme Court amicus brief as new evidence of a dangerous infringement of rights
WASHINGTON, D.C. - After another instance of local government overreach during the Covid-19 pandemic, U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on The Constitution, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and 36 other Republican senators submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Danville Christian Academy v. Beshear. In the brief, Sen. Cruz and his colleagues cited Governor Beshear of Kentucky unconstitutionally ordering K-12 religious schools to shut their doors while permitting many other secular institutions to remain open as yet another instance of an infringement on First Amendment rights in the name of public health.
Upon issuing the brief, Sen. Cruz said:
"Americans from all walks of life have made enormous and unprecedented sacrifices to curb the spread of this virus. But elected Democrats have continually exploited this crisis to abuse their power and impose authoritarian restrictions on Americans. According to Governor Beshear, during this pandemic Kentuckians can gamble, go to college, or shop in stores, all while sending their children to preschool, but not to religious K-12 schools. Governor Beshear's orders not only subvert the Bill of Rights and our constitutional liberties, they will be profoundly destructive to students and families across the state who choose to send attend religious institutions. I'm proud to join my colleagues in asking the Sixth Circuit to consider the full scope of these orders and their violation of Kentuckians' religious liberty."
Sen. Cruz has long fought prejudicial government overreach against religious institutions in the U.S., warning against the dangers of "pandemic authoritarianism" and urging state and local leaders to protect Americans' constitutional rights while combatting this deadly virus. In response to this threat to our constitutional liberties, Sen. Cruz:
- Filed an amicus brief defending the Capitol Hill Baptist Church's (CHBC) lawsuit against the Mayor of Washington, D.C., Muriel Bowser as she participated in several mass protests in recent months while prohibiting a religious gathering of more than 100 individuals outdoors.
- Introduced the Safeguarding Americans from Coronavirus and Religious Exercise Discrimination (SACRED) Act, aiming to block federal funding for COVID relief to state and local governments that discriminate against religious individuals or institutions.
- Defended the U.S. Department of Justice as it rebuked New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's targeting of the Orthodox Jewish community.
- Urged Attorney General Bill Barr and the U.S. Department of Justice to protect the civil liberties of religious institutions in the wake of targeting by local officials.
- Wrote an op-ed in the New York Post on authoritarianism by the local officials during the pandemic, using recent New York City government officials as a striking example of a targeting of religious communities.
- Led the Senate in confirming Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a dedicated constitutionalist, to the U.S. Supreme Court in October.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Americans across the country witnessed a dangerous pattern of infringement on constitutional rights. The case of Danville Christian Academy v. Beshear is the most recent example, but news reports have highlighted the growing fight by religious communities against double standards:
- "A federal lawsuit challenging restrictions on houses of worship, imposed by Delaware Gov. John Carney at the start of the pandemic, has been settled. In exchange for the Rev. Christopher Bullock dropping his lawsuit, Carney agreed that in any future emergency requiring state actions, the governor 'must treat churches and religious worship in a neutral manner.' This also means places of worship will be treated like all other citizens and properties, and not be singled out."
- "A Colorado church is petitioning the Supreme Court for relief from coronavirus restrictions in the state, arguing that churches are treated less favorably than other establishments under the rules."
- "The Supreme Court ordered California judges Thursday to follow its lead in blocking stringent coronavirus restrictions on houses of worship, as the high court did in a New York case last week. [...] Religious groups had complained that 'indoor worship services are completely prohibited for 99.1% of Californians' while 'food packing and processing, laundromats, and warehouses have no capacity limits, liquor and grocery stores have a 50% capacity, and big box centers, shopping malls, laundromats, and destination centers have a 25% capacity.'"
- "Even as mass protests were allowed to take place across the state, people of faith were targeted with threats of criminal prosecution and $1000 fines for violating the restrictions on group gatherings, the suit alleges."
Cosigners joining Sens. Cruz and McConnell on the amicus brief include Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), John Thune (R-S.D.), John Barasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Boozman (R-Ariz.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).