Podcast: The U.S. Constitution and COVID-19

As lockdown measures begin to ease up, we thought we would explore the constitutional questions they raised. Joining me in this conversation is my co-host Michael Otteson, and KU Law Professor Richard Levy.

In this episode, we take a look at what sort of textual, institutional, and political restrictions there are in limiting just what our federal, state, and local governments are able to in combating the current pandemic. And at one point, our conversation takes a short diversion into the misuse of power our government has overseen during national emergencies.

Constitutional or not? Protesters and professors debate rights amid COVID-19 related shutdowns

While protesters across the country defy stay-at-home orders to defend their freedoms at anti-quarantine rallies, constitutional law professors say the cases they are trying to bring against governors probably wouldn’t hold up in court.

Protesters in the state capitals of Maine and Pennsylvania congregated this past Monday, demanding that governors end the stay-at-home orders aimed at lessening the spread of COVID-19. The protests followed the lead of similar rallies in Ohio, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina and Virginia.

Kansas lawmakers revoke Gov. Kelly's order limiting church gatherings

TOPEKA, Kan. — Easter looming, Kansas Republican leaders on Wednesday revoked Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s order limiting religious gatherings to 10 people as the state’s coronavirus death toll jumped 40 percent.

House and Senate leaders — meeting as a body called the Legislative Coordinating Council — voted along party lines to throw out the directive. Their decision came as the number of reported COVID-19 cases in the state climbed to more than 1,000 and the death count ticked up to 38.

Kansas lawmakers want to block the right to abortion by changing the state constitution

TOPEKA, Kansas — Lawmakers are fast-tracking a push to amend the state constitution and undo a Kansas Supreme Court ruling that said women have the right to abortion.

The goal, with voters’ approval in August, is to add a line to the state bill of rights saying abortion isn’t constitutionally protected ⁠— and that legislators can regulate abortions, including when a pregnancy results from rape or incest or threatens a woman’s life.

AG Derek Schmidt speaks out against legality of new Kansas tax policy

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Attorney General Derek Schmidt spoke out against the legality of the Kansas online sales tax policy that will go into effect on Tuesday.

Out-of-state and online businesses were told that starting Oct. 1, they need to collect Kansas state and local sales taxes anytime someone from Kansas makes a purchase.

On Monday, Attorney General Derek Schmidt declared that Governor Laura Kelly lacks the legal authority to impose such a rule.

Kansas abortion ruling prompts new legal attack on death penalty

TOPEKA — A recent Kansas Supreme Court ruling declaring that the state constitution protects access to abortion opened the door to a new legal attack on the death penalty.

Attorneys for five of the 10 men on death row in Kansas argue that the abortion decision means the state’s courts can enforce the broad guarantees of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in the Bill of Rights in the Kansas Constitution. The lawyers contend the convicted killers cannot be executed because capital punishment violates their “inalienable” right to life.

New Alabama law permits Christian church to establish its own police force

Creeping Christian theocracy: Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has signed a bill into law allowing  a fundamentalist Christian church to establish its own police force.

Say “Hello” to the American Taliban.

Associated Press reports:

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has signed legislation permitting Briarwood Presbyterian Church to establish its own police force for its church and school campuses.

The law approved two weeks ago allows the Birmingham-based church to set-up a private law enforcement department to make arrests when crimes are committed on its properties.

A wind farm bill dies; the challenges continue

When word that House Bill 2273 had been introduced in the Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications committee last month, it took some people by surprise. News arrived by the grapevine.

“We got word that it had been filed late Wednesday evening when (the Kansas Healthcare Collaborative) notified our county health officer on a routine matter,” said Reno County Counselor Joe O’Sullivan. “The time limit to submit written testimony was Friday at noon.”

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