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Christian School Sues Whitmer Administration, Health Departments Over New Epidemic Orders

— October 22, 2020

Libertas Christian School of Hudsonville, Michigan, is suing the Whitmer Administration over COVID-19 mandates and restrictions issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Ottawa County Health Department.

Libertas Christian School in Hudsonville, Michigan is pushing back against mandates issued by the Whitmer Administration, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and the Ottawa County Health Department in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan. According to the suit, the pre-K through 12th Grade Christian school that serves 265 students has been repeatedly slammed with threats to shut down the school if they don’t follow certain rules the Whitmer Administration claims will help stem the spread of COVID-19. In addition to the lawsuit, the school also filed a motion “seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the State of Michigan.”

Children wearing masks. Image via (CCA-BY-0.0).

Among the rules the Whitmer Administration, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and the Ottawa County Health Department are attempting to force the school to follow is one that would require kindergarteners to “always wear masks while in school, including during chapel and outdoor recess.” For more than a month, the small school has allegedly been the recipient of a series “of threats of civil and criminal penalties delivered by officials.” 

When commenting on the suit, Ian Northon, special counsel for The Amistad Project of The Thomas More Society which is representing Libertas Christian School, said:

“This violates the First Amendment rights of assembly and religion for the school’s 265 students, as well as parents and staff. It is a shocking and audacious abuse of power, which started on the first day of school on September 4, and has continued despite the unanimous ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court declaring Governor Whitmer’s related Executive Orders unlawful…The County’s animus toward religion, in this case, is clear and compelling.”

He added:

“There is no one more concerned about the students’ health and safety at Libertas Christian School than their parents and the school staff. There has not been a single positive test for COVID or any cases of symptomatic students at the school and the students are healthy and thriving. The state’s actions, if allowed to prevail, will not only disrupt the children’s education and faith practice but will do great harm to the children and others.”

Phill Kline, Director of the Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society, chimed in and said:

“The Whitmer Administration lost before the highest court in Michigan and is now sidestepping the Michigan Constitution to violate the most basic rights of the students and parents…We will strongly support the students and parents as they stand up to bullies who are willing to use the full apparatus of the state against the students and parents of Libertas Christian School.”

This isn’t the only case the Amistad Project has filed against the Whitmer Administration. In fact, the organization is in the midst of five cases “filed in various Michigan courts.” Kline said the Amistad Project “will continue to challenge Governor Whitmer who has removed herself from the lawmaking process and has instead declared herself to be the law…My question for the Governor is, when did she lose faith in democracy?”

This latest suit was filed last weekend in an effort to protect the school’s students. The Thomas More Society is providing financial support for the school’s legal actions so the legal costs don’t fall on the parents and students. The Thomas More Society is a not-for-profit public interest law firm.


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