September 2016 Church & State - September 2016

Ky. Governor Intervenes In First Amendment Case

  AU admin

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) has asked a federal court to nullify a settlement guaranteeing that children in publicly funded religious care facilities will not be subject to proselytization.

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Bevin’s general counsel claimed that the settlement previously reached in Pedreira v. Sunrise Children’s Services was not “fair, adequate nor reasonable to the commonwealth or its private child care provider partners.”

Americans United has represented Alicia Pedreira, alongside the American Civil Liberties Union, since 2000. Pedreira was fired by Sunrise (then known as Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children) after employers saw a photo of her in attendance at a Gay Pride parade and realized she’s lesbian. Pedreira also alleged that staff regularly subjected children to proselytization, even though the homes receive state subsidies.

After a series of court verdicts favorable to Americans United, the parties worked out an agreeable settlement. Sunrise then backtracked, petitioning first in federal court and then the U.S. Supreme Court in an attempt to skirt the agreement; the high court refused to hear the case. Americans United then filed a motion asking a court to enforce the settlement.

Americans United Associate Legal Director Alex J. Luchenitser criticized the governor’s recent move. “It’s a binding agreement and there is no basis for the state to get out of the agreement,” he told the Courier-Journal.

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