Religious Liberty Expert Supports Confirmation of Judge Justin Walker to the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. Circuit
05/06/2020 | 12:52pm EDT
Walker’s recent ruling in Louisville, Kentucky drive-in church case was first judicial ruling protecting religious liberty during pandemic
WASHINGTON, May 06, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Religious liberty attorney Kelly Shackelford today expressed strong support for the confirmation of Judge Justin Walker to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Walker, currently a Judge on the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, appeared today before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
A letter from First Liberty to the Committee members can be read here.
“Judge Walker’s judicial record reflects his strong commitment to the Constitution and religious freedom,” said Kelly Shackelford, President, CEO, and Chief Counsel for First Liberty Institute. “In his recent ruling in Kentucky, Judge Walker stopped government officials from unfairly targeting churches at a time when many questioned whether religious freedom would also become a victim to COVID-19. Judge Walker’s ruling was the legal shot heard around the world, and now many other courts are following it. We are confident Judge Walker will protect the religious freedom and First Amendment rights of all Americans as a circuit court judge.”
On April 10, Good Friday, First Liberty Institute filed a lawsuit against Louisville Greg Fischer because he banned churches from holding CDC-compliant drive-in religious services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The mayor’s order singled out places of worship for less favorable treatment when compared with similar types of activities. The following day, Judge Walker entered a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that enjoined Fischer and the City of Louisville from enforcing its order. In the first major victory for religious freedom against discriminatory stay-at-home orders, Judge Walker ruled that under the First Amendment, Louisville could not prohibit churches from holding CDC-compliant drive-in services.
Walker’s order explained: “On Holy Thursday, an American mayor criminalized the communal celebration of Easter. That sentence is one that this Court never expected to see outside the pages of a dystopian novel, or perhaps the pages of The Onion . . .. The Mayor’s decision is stunning. And it is, ‘beyond all reason,’ unconstitutional.” The TRO prevents “Louisville from enforcing; attempting to enforce; threatening to enforce; or otherwise requiring compliance with any prohibition on drive-in church services at On Fire [Christian Church].”
About First Liberty Institute First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.