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First Baptist Church v. Kelly

Description:  A provision of Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s COVID-19 mass gathering ban unconstitutionally treated religious congregations different from many secular gatherings.

Thursday, Apr 30, 2020

Attorney sound bite:  Tyson Langhofer

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer regarding a new executive order that Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced Thursday as a result of the ADF lawsuit First Baptist Church v. Kelly that no longer unconstitutionally singles out churches for special punishment in its regulations related to mass gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic:

“Singling out churches for special punishment while allowing others to have greater freedom never made sense and was never constitutional. It’s a shame that it took a federal lawsuit and a temporary restraining order to finally prompt the governor to issue an order that she could easily have issued in the first place: one that doesn’t needlessly and unconstitutionally target churches. The new executive order that we have seen rids itself of the unnecessary and unlawful language the governor included in her previous mass gathering ban. We are pleased that, finally, churches and other religious congregations will no longer have to fear discriminatory punishment for engaging safely in activities that other similarly situated groups haven’t had to fear under the governor’s executive orders.”

On behalf of two rural Kansas churches, ADF attorneys plan to file a voluntary dismissal of their lawsuit shortly after the new executive order goes into effect on Monday, provided that no changes are made to the promised language of the governor’s order.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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Previous News Releases

Legal Documents

Complaint: First Baptist Church v. Kelly
Motion for temporary restraining order: First Baptist Church v. Kelly
Notice of voluntary dismissal: First Baptist Church v. Kelly

Related Resources

ABOUT Tyson Langhofer

Tyson C. Langhofer serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom and director of its Center for Academic Freedom. Before joining ADF, Langhofer was a partner with Stinson Leonard Street LLP, where he worked as a commercial litigation attorney for 15 years and earned Martindale-Hubbell’s AV Preeminent® rating. Langhofer earned his Juris Doctor from Regent University School of Law, where he graduated cum laude in 1999. He obtained a B.A. in international business with a minor in economics from Wichita State University in 1996. A member of the bar in Virginia, Kansas, and Arizona, Langhofer is also admitted to practice in numerous federal district courts.