WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to block an order by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear that bars in-person K-12 education until early January in areas hard hit by COVID-19, rejecting a plea from a private religious school.
The court said in an unsigned opinion that Beshear's order will effectively expire at the end of the week anyway because schools are about to begin their Christmas vacation and can open again in early January. A ruling against the state “would have little practical effect,” the court said.
Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented. Gorsuch noted that the governor issued a separate order allowing “virtually all other in-person activities to continue with only capacity restrictions. Movie theaters, indoor wedding venues, bowling alleys, and gaming halls remained open for business.”
Beshear, speaking at a news conference in Kentucky around the same time the court issued its order, said, "In no way were religious schools treated any differently, we asked everybody to make the same sacrifice.”
The Danville Christian Academy had sued Beshear after he announced the closures in November in response to increased cases of COVID-19 around the state. His order applied to both public and private schools.
The school said it was being treated unfairly under Kentucky law and the U.S. Constitution. A district court agreed, blocking the order, but the federal appeals court in Cincinnati, Ohio, allowed Beshear's order to remain in effect.
Associated Press writer Piper Hudspeth Blackburn contributed to this report from Louisville, Kentucky.