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Case Name First Baptist Church v. Kelly FA-KS-0002
Docket / Court 6:20-cv-01102-JWB-GEB ( D. Kan. )
State/Territory Kansas
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
COVID 19 Summary: This case, filed in April 2020, rejected Kansas Governor Laura Kelley’s executive orders restricting mass gatherings at churches. The case ended in May 2020, when Governor Kelly’s new executive order allowed such gatherings.


On April 7, 2020, Governor Kelly ... read more >
COVID 19 Summary: This case, filed in April 2020, rejected Kansas Governor Laura Kelley’s executive orders restricting mass gatherings at churches. The case ended in May 2020, when Governor Kelly’s new executive order allowed such gatherings.


On April 7, 2020, Governor Kelly issued Executive Order 20-18, which explicitly forbade mass gatherings for churches and religious institutions while simultaneously allowing exemptions for certain secular activities. On the 15th, a Kansas church, First Baptist Church, sought permission to hold in-door services, following social distancing guidelines. The Governor’s office denied permission, but said that Governor Kelly would consider reviewing the order.

Two churches and their pastors filed this lawsuit the next day in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. Plaintiffs were represented by attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom as well as private counsel. The complaint alleged that Kelly had violated plaintiffs' 1st Amendment rights of free exercise of religion, freedom of assembly, and freedom of speech. It also alleged violations of Kansas's Freedom of Religion Restoration Act. Central to each of these claims is the allegation that the order did not serve a compelling governmental interest and that it was not narrowly tailored, especially given the exemptions for some secular activities. The original complaint sought a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction, and a permanent injunction prohibiting Kansas from enforcing Executive Order 20-18 against the plaintiffs, judgments declaring that the order violated the 1st Amendment and Kansas's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, attorney's fees, and any other relief to which they might be entitled.

On April 17, 2020, plaintiffs sought a temporary restraining order barring Governor Kelly from enforcing the executive order against them. Kelly filed a motion to dismiss the case on the same day. Also on the 17th, Governor Kelly issued Executive Order 20-25, which removed libraries and shopping malls from the list of exemptions to the order in 20-18.

On April 18, the Court both denied Kelly's motion to dismiss and granted the churches' temporary restraining order, provided that they abide by social distancing guidelines. The order was set to expire on May 2nd, 2020.

On April 22,, plaintiffs amended their original complaint, withdrawing the cause of action under Kansas's Religious Freedom Restoration Act and adding as defendants the Kansas Adjutant General, the Geary County Sheriff, and the Ford County Sheriff. By the parties’ agreement, the temporary restraining order was extended to May 16.

On April 27, the Court denied Kelly's motion to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction and denied modification of the temporary restraining order. 2020 WL 1984259.

On April 30, Governor Kelly issued Executive Order 20-29, which replaced Executive Order 20-25. The new order allowed for religious services to open up to in-person worship as long as they followed social distancing guidelines.

Citing the relaxed standards in the new order, plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their complaint without prejudice on May 4, 2020. This marked the end of the suit, and there are no further entries in the docket.

Jack Hibbard - 06/20/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit religious organization
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) Ford County Sheriff
Geary County Sheriff
Governor of Kansas
Plaintiff Description Two Baptist churches in Kansas.
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration 2020 - 2020
Filed 04/16/2020
Case Closing Year 2020
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  ADF lawsuit prompts KS governor to issue new order that no longer targets churches
http://www.adfmedia.org/
Date: Apr. 30, 2020
By: Alliance Defending Freedom
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
D. Kan.
05/04/2020
6:20-cv-01102-JWB-GEB
FA-KS-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D. Kan.
04/16/2020
Verified Complaint for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
FA-KS-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Kan.
04/17/2020
Plaintiffs' Motion for Expedited Hearing and Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 7]
FA-KS-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Kan.
04/17/2020
Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 9]
FA-KS-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Kan.
04/18/2020
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 14] (455 F.Supp.3d 1078)
FA-KS-0002-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Kan.
04/18/2020
Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 15]
FA-KS-0002-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Kan.
04/21/2020
Motion by Kansas Interfaith Action for Leave to File Brief as Amicus Curiae in Support of Defendant [ECF# 29]
FA-KS-0002-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Kan.
04/21/2020
Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction [ECF# 30]
FA-KS-0002-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Kan.
04/22/2020
Amended Verified Complaint for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 33 (& 33-1, 33-2, 33-3, 33-7, 33-8, 33-10)]
FA-KS-0002-0008.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Kan.
04/22/2020
Suggestion of Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction Over Sheriff Carr [ECF# 36]
FA-KS-0002-0009.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Kan.
04/22/2020
Motion to Expand Temporary Restraining Order to Additional Parties and Request for Expedited Hearing [ECF# 41]
FA-KS-0002-0010.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Kan.
04/23/2020
Plaintiffs' Opposition to Defendant Kelly's Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction [ECF# 43]
FA-KS-0002-0011.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Kan.
04/25/2020
Agreed Motion to Extend Temporary Restraining Order Against Defendant Governor Laura Kelly [ECF# 49]
FA-KS-0002-0012.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Kan.
04/27/2020
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 55] (457 F.Supp.3d 1072)
FA-KS-0002-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | External Link | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Kan.
04/27/2020
Order [ECF# 56]
FA-KS-0002-0014.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Kan.
04/29/2020
Brief of Kansas Interfaith Action as Amicus Curiae in Support of Defendant [ECF# 58]
FA-KS-0002-0016.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Kan.
05/04/2020
Plaintiffs' Notice of Voluntary Dismissal Without Prejudice [ECF# 60]
FA-KS-0002-0015.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Birzer, Gwynne E. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
FA-KS-0002-9000
Broomes, John Wesley (D. Kan.) show/hide docs
FA-KS-0002-0004 | FA-KS-0002-0005 | FA-KS-0002-0013 | FA-KS-0002-0014 | FA-KS-0002-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Cortman, David A. (Georgia) show/hide docs
FA-KS-0002-0001 | FA-KS-0002-0002 | FA-KS-0002-0008 | FA-KS-0002-0010 | FA-KS-0002-0011 | FA-KS-0002-0012 | FA-KS-0002-0015 | FA-KS-0002-9000
Kriegshauser, Ryan A. (Kansas) show/hide docs
FA-KS-0002-0001 | FA-KS-0002-0002 | FA-KS-0002-0008 | FA-KS-0002-0010 | FA-KS-0002-0011 | FA-KS-0002-0012 | FA-KS-0002-0015 | FA-KS-0002-9000
Langhofer, Tyson C. (Virginia) show/hide docs
FA-KS-0002-0001 | FA-KS-0002-0002 | FA-KS-0002-0008 | FA-KS-0002-0010 | FA-KS-0002-0011 | FA-KS-0002-0012 | FA-KS-0002-0015 | FA-KS-0002-9000
Ney, Joshua A. (Kansas) show/hide docs
FA-KS-0002-0001 | FA-KS-0002-0002 | FA-KS-0002-0008 | FA-KS-0002-0010 | FA-KS-0002-0011 | FA-KS-0002-0012 | FA-KS-0002-0015 | FA-KS-0002-9000
Tucker, Ryan Jeffery (Arizona) show/hide docs
FA-KS-0002-0001 | FA-KS-0002-0002 | FA-KS-0002-0008 | FA-KS-0002-0010 | FA-KS-0002-0011 | FA-KS-0002-0012 | FA-KS-0002-0015 | FA-KS-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Buck, Cory R. (Missouri) show/hide docs
FA-KS-0002-9000
Campbell, Terrence J. (Kansas) show/hide docs
FA-KS-0002-9000
Case, Kevin D. (Missouri) show/hide docs
FA-KS-0002-9000
Irigonegaray, Pedro L. (Kansas) show/hide docs
FA-KS-0002-0003 | FA-KS-0002-0007 | FA-KS-0002-0009 | FA-KS-0002-0012 | FA-KS-0002-9000
Linden, Patric S. (Missouri) show/hide docs
FA-KS-0002-9000
Mulligan, Lumen (Kansas) show/hide docs
FA-KS-0002-0003 | FA-KS-0002-0007 | FA-KS-0002-0009 | FA-KS-0002-0012 | FA-KS-0002-9000
Turney, John B. Jr. (Kansas) show/hide docs
FA-KS-0002-0003 | FA-KS-0002-9000
Zavadil, Jason Andrew (Kansas) show/hide docs
FA-KS-0002-0003 | FA-KS-0002-9000
Other Lawyers Katskee, Richard B. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-KS-0002-0006 | FA-KS-0002-0016 | FA-KS-0002-9000
Luchenitser, Alexander Joseph (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-KS-0002-0006 | FA-KS-0002-0016 | FA-KS-0002-9000
MacRoberts, Samuel G. (Kansas) show/hide docs
FA-KS-0002-9000
Skepnek, William (Kansas) show/hide docs
FA-KS-0002-0006 | FA-KS-0002-0016 | FA-KS-0002-9000

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