Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost joins religious schools to crack down on a public health ordinance passed by the Lucas County’s Regional Board of Health in November.
Another day, another person fighting back the restrictive measures taken by health and health authorities across the country to curb the spread of COVID-19. This time, it’s Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost who says enough when it comes to schools. In fact, he filed a brief for the Sixth Circuit Court in the United States Court of Appeals for believing that “religious schools in the state cannot be forced to close their doors even if a county health department prohibits all personal instruction. ”
Church tower; Image courtesy of Rhomphaia via Pixabay, www.pixabay.com
In his letter, Yost said:
“This order violates the freedom of practice clause … This clause prohibits the government from discriminating against religion.”
According to Yost, the allegations of discrimination stem from a health ordinance passed by the Lucas County Regional Board of Health back in November. According to this order, grades 7 through 12 in public schools and parish schools were required to finish personal classes by mid-January to stop the spread of COVID-19. However, Yost and the directors of four private schools state in the lawsuit that other businesses, such as casinos, restaurants, and gyms, could continue to provide personalized service to their customers while in-person lessons have to end. The letter says:
“This non-discrimination rule means that once a state has established a preferred class of business, it must justify why [religious institutions] are excluded from this preferred class … it burdens religious practice; These burdens are unequal to the burdens placed on secular entities, and the differential treatment cannot withstand rigorous testing. “
This is the first time since the beginning of the pandemic that Yost has joined a “local or statewide health regime”. However, he has made many public statements “about his role in enforcing health instructions during a pandemic”. In March he said:
“Identifying roles in a crisis is critical. In the current COVID-19 crisis, the attorney general is playing a special role … We are the prosecutor and the Ohio Department of Health is the cop. My office will take quick enforcement action once a Department of Health investigation is completed, if facts are found in support of a violation and a case is referred to my office. “
Yost believes that Lucas County’s latest ruling appears to be unconstitutional, which is why he “is asking the appeals court to grant the schools’ request for an injunction to reopen during the litigation.” The health department had until the beginning of this week to present its arguments to the court.
The Ohio Attorney General joins the lawsuit, demanding that religious schools be allowed to reopen
Ohio AG joins religious schools and challenges the order to stop personal learning