Kansas Supreme Court Ruled in Favor of Gov. Kelly

Joe Denoyer - April 11, 2020 9:48 pm

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in favor of Gov. Laura Kelly Saturday night in her Lawsuit against the Legislative Coordinating Council.

Related: Gov. Laura Kelly takes executive order on limiting church gatherings to Kansas Supreme Court

In a release, the court said in reference to House Concurrent Resolution No. 5025, “Its plain text did not authorize the LCC to revoke Executive Order 20-18.”

“The Court ruled swiftly and narrowly, relying on the plain language of House Concurrent Resolution No. 5025. The Court said the revocation could not stand, because the resolution failed to give the LCC the necessary power to override the Governor’s order.”

The news comes several hours after the Kansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments Saturday morning in a lawsuit that Gov. Laura Kelly filed against the Legislative Coordinating Council for blocking Executive Order 20-18.

All seven Supreme Court Justices and counsel from both sides were on a livestream video conference to argue the case.

Gov. Kelly is being represented by Chief Counsel Clay Britton and the LCC by Brad Schlozman and Ed Greim.

The LCC said they acted on behalf of the members of the legislature because the governor’s order singled out religion, which they said is unconstitutional.

The Governor said they did not have that authority and their attempt to do so through House Concurrent Resolution 5025 was ineffective.

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, Speaker Ron Ryckman (R-Olathe), Majority Leader Dan Hawkins (R-Wichita), and Speaker Pro Tem Blaine Finch (R-Ottawa) issued the following joint statement:

We want to thank Chief Justice Luckert and the Members of the Kansas Supreme Court for their prompt consideration of the issues raised in the Governor’s lawsuit, and we honor the Court’s decision.

The question was never whether people should gather in church during these times. The answer to that is clearly no. The question was whether people should be arrested and jailed for going to church. The Governor believed they should be. We think that goes too far.

The Court went a different direction in the Governor’s lawsuit and instead focused on the emergency disaster resolution itself. So, while the Governor can now move forward with the criminal provision she sought on churches, we’re more concerned about the bigger picture.

The Court’s decision causes the state’s emergency disaster declaration to expire on May 1, which could jeopardize federal disaster relief funding. While everyone is hopeful this pandemic subsides soon, the reality is a longer period of emergency disaster authority will likely be needed in order to protect Kansans and our state’s relief funding.

The Governor’s decision to go to court instead of compromise has created a new level of uncertainty that does nothing to help our state through this crisis. Working together is the only way we address that uncertainty, protect the health of our state, and save people’s lives.

 

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