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Case Name Maryville Baptist Church v. Beshear FA-KY-0004
Docket / Court 3:20-cv-00278-DJH ( W.D. Ky. )
State/Territory Kentucky
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
COVID-19 summary: This is an action brought by the Maryville Baptist Church against the enforcement of various COVID-19 related gathering orders issued by the Governor of Kentucky, which kept them from holding in-person and drive-in services. The plaintiffs sought declaratory relief and a permanent ... read more >
COVID-19 summary: This is an action brought by the Maryville Baptist Church against the enforcement of various COVID-19 related gathering orders issued by the Governor of Kentucky, which kept them from holding in-person and drive-in services. The plaintiffs sought declaratory relief and a permanent injunction that would keep the defendant from enforcing gathering orders. On May 2, the Sixth Circuit granted in part the plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction but declined to enjoin the prohibition of in-person gatherings. On May 8, the District Court granted the motion for injunction, enjoining the prohibition of in-person services as long as the plaintiffs adhered to social-distancing guidelines. The defendants moved to dismiss. The case is ongoing.


On April 17, 2020, Maryville Baptist Church and its pastor filed an action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kentucky. Represented by Liberty Counsel, the plaintiffs sued the Governor of Kentucky under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA"), 42 U.S.C. §2000cc, et seq, the Kentucky constitution, and state law. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the enforcement of various COVID-19 related gathering orders issued by the governor -- which were enforced through the dispatch of the Kentucky State police and posted notices of criminal violations and quarantine requirements on all vehicles during the Easter Sunday worship service -- violated their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, Article IV of the Constitution, RLUIPA, and state law. The plaintiffs sought to enjoin the defendant from enforcing the gathering orders, to allow for drive-in and in-person church services insofar as the social distancing requirements were met, and a termination of the notices filed by the Kentucky State Police. The case was assigned to Judge David J. Hale, then referred to Judge Regina S. Edwards.

Additionally on April 17, the plaintiffs filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a preliminary injunction. Judge Hale denied the TRO the following day, stating that the plaintiffs had not proved they were likely to succeed on the merits, as the gathering orders applied not only to religious conduct and faith-based gathering, but applied broadly to all gatherings and congregative activity. 2020 WL 1909616.

The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Sixth Circuit on April 24 and filed an emergency motion to enter an injunction of the gathering orders, pending appeal.

On May 2, the Sixth Circuit granted in part the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction pending the appeal, enjoining the defendant from enforcing the gathering orders against drive-in services at the Maryville Baptist Church, as long as the plaintiffs adhered to the public health requirements mandated for "life-sustaining" entities. The court declined to grant the plaintiffs' request for an injunction as to in-person services. The court noted that the plaintiffs' claims would be moot after May 20, the date had agreed to permit places of worship to reopen. 957 F.3d 610.

On May 4, the plaintiffs renewed their motion for a preliminary injunction pending appeal, which was granted on May 8. In his order, Judge Hale noted that the defendants were enjoined from enforcing the ban on mass gatherings to in-person services at the church as long as plaintiffs adhered to public health requirements set by state officials. 2020 WL 2393359.

Also on May 8, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim. They claimed that the Eleventh Amendment barred suits against state officials due to sovereign immunity and that the plaintiffs failed to state a claim under the RLUIPA because the gathering orders regulated conduct, not land use. The defendants amended their motion to dismiss on May 12, noting that other district courts had similarly denied the relief plaintiffs were requesting.

The same day, the Sixth Circuit consolidated a case, Theodore Roberts v. Robert Neace, for the purpose of appeal.

On May 12, the plaintiffs filed an emergency motion for clarification or status conference, stating that the governor's newly issued guidelines for faith-based organizations rendered the previous order unclear. The motion was denied the next day.

On June 17, the plaintiffs filed a response in opposition to the defendant's motion to dismiss.

On June 29, the defendants submitted a motion to dissolve the preliminary injunction and injunction pending appeal, arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court had addressed a similar matter in the case South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom. The defendants claimed that in his concurrence, Justice Roberts had made clear that the mass gatherings order in question passed the constitutional muster and should not be enjoined. The plaintiffs responded on July 20, arguing that the court has no jurisdiction to consider the motion and that a Supreme Court Justice's concurrence in another case is not binding.

In the Sixth Circuit, the Commonwealth of Kentucky filed filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the plaintiffs on July 7. On July 28, the defendants argued that the plaintiffs' claim is moot because places of worship can now hold indoor in-person services

The case is ongoing.

Averyn Lee - 07/27/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government non-profit
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
State law
Defendant(s) Governor of Kentucky
Plaintiff Description This is an action brought by Maryville Baptist Church and its pastor seeking relief against the enforcement of COVID-19 gathering orders in Kentucky
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2020 - n/a
Filed 04/17/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Docket(s)
3:20-cv-00278-DJH (W.D. Ky.)
FA-KY-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/03/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Verified Complaint for Declaratory Relief, Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary and Permanent Injunctive Relief, and Damages [Exhibits G to J] [ECF# 1-8, 1-9, 1-10, 1-11]
FA-KY-0004-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/17/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Verified Complaint for Declaratory Relief, Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary and Permanent Injunctive Relief, and Damages [Exhibits A to E] [ECF# 1 (& 1-1 to 1-7)]
FA-KY-0004-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/17/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Verified Complaint for Declaratory Relief, Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary and Permanent Injunctive Relief, and Damages [Exhibits K and M] [ECF# 1-12, 1-14]
FA-KY-0004-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/17/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Verified Complaint for Declaratory Relief, Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary and Permanent Injunctive Relief, and Damages [Exhibits N to Q] [ECF# 1-15, 1-16, 1-17, 1-18]
FA-KY-0004-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/17/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Verified Complaint for Declaratory Relief, Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary and Permanent Injunctive Relief, and Damages [Exhibit L] [ECF# 1-13]
FA-KY-0004-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/17/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction and Supporting Memorandum of Law [ECF# 3]
FA-KY-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/17/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 9] (W.D. Ky.)
FA-KY-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/18/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Emergency Motion for Injunction Pending Appeal and Supporting Memorandum of Law [ECF# 17]
FA-KY-0004-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/24/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Ct. of App. ECF# 23]
FA-KY-0004-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/02/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Renewed Emergency Motion for Injunction Pending Appeal and Motion to Amend Briefing Schedule [ECF# 25 (& 25-1 to 25-3)]
FA-KY-0004-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/04/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Governor Beshear's Response in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Renewed Emergency Motion for Injunction Pending Appeal [ECF# 31 (& 31-1 to 31-7)]
FA-KY-0004-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/06/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Reply Brief in Support of Renewed Emergency Motion for Injunction Pending Appeal [ECF# 32]
FA-KY-0004-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/07/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Governor Beshear's Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 33 (& 33-1 to 33-4)]
FA-KY-0004-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/08/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Governor Beshear's First Amended Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 38, 38-1, 38-2]
FA-KY-0004-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/12/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Response in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and Amended Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 45]
FA-KY-0004-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/17/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion to Dissolve the Preliminary Injunction and Injunction Pending Appeal and Notice of Supplemental Authority [ECF# 46, 46-1 & 46-2]
FA-KY-0004-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/29/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief of the Commonwealth of Kentucky as Amicus Curiae in Support of Appellants
FA-KY-0004-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/07/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Governor Beshear's Reply in Support of Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 49]
FA-KY-0004-0017.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/13/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Response in Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dissolve Preliminary Injunction and Injunction Pending Appeal [ECF# 50]
FA-KY-0004-0018.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/20/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief of Governor Andy Beshear
FA-KY-0004-0020.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/28/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Edwards, Regina S. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
FA-KY-0004-9000
Hale, David Jason (W.D. Ky.) show/hide docs
FA-KY-0004-0002 | FA-KY-0004-9000
McKeague, David William (W.D. Mich., Sixth Circuit) show/hide docs
FA-KY-0004-0004
Nalbandian, John Baylor (Sixth Circuit) show/hide docs
FA-KY-0004-0004
Sutton, Jeffrey S. (Sixth Circuit) show/hide docs
FA-KY-0004-0004
Walker, Justin Reed (W.D. Ky.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
FA-KY-0004-0011
Plaintiff's Lawyers Gannam, Roger K. (Florida) show/hide docs
FA-KY-0004-0001 | FA-KY-0004-0003 | FA-KY-0004-0005 | FA-KY-0004-0006 | FA-KY-0004-0011 | FA-KY-0004-0012 | FA-KY-0004-0015 | FA-KY-0004-0018 | FA-KY-0004-9000
Mihet, Horatio G. (Florida) show/hide docs
FA-KY-0004-0001 | FA-KY-0004-0003 | FA-KY-0004-0005 | FA-KY-0004-0006 | FA-KY-0004-0011 | FA-KY-0004-0012 | FA-KY-0004-0015 | FA-KY-0004-0018 | FA-KY-0004-9000
Schmid, Daniel Joseph (Florida) show/hide docs
FA-KY-0004-0001 | FA-KY-0004-0003 | FA-KY-0004-0005 | FA-KY-0004-0006 | FA-KY-0004-0011 | FA-KY-0004-0012 | FA-KY-0004-0015 | FA-KY-0004-0018 | FA-KY-0004-9000
Staver, Mathew D. (Florida) show/hide docs
FA-KY-0004-0001 | FA-KY-0004-0003 | FA-KY-0004-0005 | FA-KY-0004-0006 | FA-KY-0004-0011 | FA-KY-0004-0012 | FA-KY-0004-0015 | FA-KY-0004-0018 | FA-KY-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Buckner, La Tasha (Kentucky) show/hide docs
FA-KY-0004-0007 | FA-KY-0004-0008 | FA-KY-0004-0009 | FA-KY-0004-0016 | FA-KY-0004-0017 | FA-KY-0004-0020 | FA-KY-0004-9000
Farris, Marc G (Kentucky) show/hide docs
FA-KY-0004-0007 | FA-KY-0004-0008 | FA-KY-0004-0009 | FA-KY-0004-0016 | FA-KY-0004-0017 | FA-KY-0004-0020 | FA-KY-0004-9000
Mayo, Steven T (Kentucky) show/hide docs
FA-KY-0004-0007 | FA-KY-0004-0008 | FA-KY-0004-0009 | FA-KY-0004-0016 | FA-KY-0004-0017 | FA-KY-0004-0020 | FA-KY-0004-9000
Payne, Taylor Allen (Kentucky) show/hide docs
FA-KY-0004-0007 | FA-KY-0004-0008 | FA-KY-0004-0009 | FA-KY-0004-0016 | FA-KY-0004-0017 | FA-KY-0004-0020 | FA-KY-0004-9000
Tipton, Laura S (Kentucky) show/hide docs
FA-KY-0004-0007 | FA-KY-0004-0008 | FA-KY-0004-0009 | FA-KY-0004-0016 | FA-KY-0004-0017 | FA-KY-0004-0020 | FA-KY-0004-9000
Other Lawyers Cameron, Daniel (Kentucky) show/hide docs
FA-KY-0004-0019
Dunn, Barry L (Kentucky) show/hide docs
FA-KY-0004-0019 | FA-KY-0004-9000
Iaccarino, Carmine G (Kentucky) show/hide docs
FA-KY-0004-9000
Kuhn, Matthew Franklin (Kentucky) show/hide docs
FA-KY-0004-0019
Maddox, Victor B (Kentucky) show/hide docs
FA-KY-0004-9000
Meredith, Stephen Chad (Kentucky) show/hide docs
FA-KY-0004-0019
Nolan, Brett Robert (Kentucky) show/hide docs
FA-KY-0004-0019

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