Churchgoers who filed suit against Beshear stand up against quarantine orders in new federal lawsuit

Churchgoers who filed suit against Beshear stand up against quarantine orders in new federal lawsuit
The notices from the state health department are out to some of those who attended Easter services at Maryville Baptist Church in Bullitt County on Sunday, including TJ Roberts (above). (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The notices from the state health department are out to some of those who attended Easter services at Maryville Baptist Church in Bullitt County on Sunday.

But despite the notice, at least three people say they will not quarantine unless they start feeling any symptoms, according to the federal lawsuit they filed Wednesday against Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, among others.

“I think that it was a huge overreach of his power,” T.J. Roberts, one of the three plaintiffs, told WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters.

He said he went to the in-person service, and hopes to send a message to Beshear with the lawsuit.

“He doesn’t have the power to suspend the Bill of Rights,” Roberts said. “He doesn’t have the right to tell you that you can’t worship in according to your conscience.”

Roberts said he wore a face mask to go into the church, didn’t shake hands or receive communion.

"I practiced social distancing," he said.

Roberts added that he felt safer in the church from the coronavirus than anywhere else, like the grocery store. And that is what his attorney Chris Wiest said is the point.

"You cannot treat churches worse than other groups," Wiest said.

Wiest said to his knowledge, no other group, like factories or liquor stores, where people are taking the similar precautions, have received notices requiring 14-day quarantines. He said Beshear has the right to restrict gatherings, but he cannot single out the church, making his actions unconstitutional.

"Federal constitutional rights do not go away even in an emergency," Wiest added.

Wiest and Roberts both said they do not want to spread, or get, the virus, but added that risk is there every time you leave your home.

“I can contract the virus at Kroger or Walmart,” Roberts said. “If I get the virus, there’s no way of proving that I got it from church.”

Wiest said his client will follow the CDC guidelines, adding that he hopes the governor scales back what he considers unequal enforcement.

“Our freedoms do matter, and when it comes down to it, and what this is all about, is about allowing for individuals to make their own decisions for themselves,” Wiest said.

Part of the lawsuit also pertains to Beshear’s travel ban. Wiest said he believes the governor has the right to restrict travel within the state, but not across state lines, which would have to be mandated by the federal government.

Meanwhile, the Liberty Counsel, which represents Maryville Church, and two other plaintiffs, told WAVE 3 News some of those who attended Sunday’s service have received notices requiring them to quarantine for 14 days, regardless of whether they have any symptoms at all.

Kentucky State Police troopers looked up the license plates of the vehicles there and gave that information to the health department in order for them to send out the notices.

The notices included a contract the person is asked to sign, promising to abide by the quarantine and several restrictions such as not attending work, school, or shopping centers, church, or any public place.

The document also requires they take their temperature daily and report any changes to the health department.

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