Hearing action is scheduled for early next week in a lawsuit filed by a group of religious schools against the state.  The issue is the move by Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer to extend the latest shutdown order. Like all other similar moves for some time now, the Governor is using the State Health and Human Services Department to issue the order as the ongoing workaround to State Supreme Court rulings declaring her Executive Orders dealing with the COVID-19 virus outbreak as unconstitutional.

The Michigan Association of Non-Public Schools is joining the lawsuit which has been assigned to federal court Judge Paul Maloney in the Western US District of Michigan.  The federal judge in Kalamazoo is ordering the state to respond to the school's lawsuit by tomorrow (December 10, 2020) with a hearing set for Monday (December 14, 2020). In essence, the lawsuit is claiming the schools have First Amendment Rights protection against the  Governor’s shutdown orders.

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Mlive quotes Association Director Brian Broderick as saying, “The state’s latest order inhibits the faith formation of students and violates their constitutional right to practice religion while leaving open secular businesses where transmission of COVID-19 is more likely to occur. Broderick goes on,“While faith is integrated into curriculum, physical presence at a faith-based school allows for additional, unique integration beyond classroom instruction. This includes religious services, participation in the sacraments and the overall Christian community.”

The association is an organization of about 400 religious schools throughout Michigan with about 90,000 students. It offered words of caution about further state shutdown orders. Additional Plaintiffs in the suit include parents of some students at Lansing Catholic High School,  Everest Collegiate Academy in Clarkston, and Father Gabriel Richard High School in Ann Arbor. The Diocese of Lansing’s Superintendent of Schools says the value of religious training and in-person learning is so important that the state must be challenged with a lawsuit.

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