Ramsek v. Beshear, No. 20-5749 (6th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Kentucky Governor Beshear’s COVID-19 response included a “Mass Gathering Order” that prevented groups of more than 10 people from assembling for purposes including community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based, or sporting events; parades; concerts; festivals; conventions; fundraisers; and similar activities.” Locations permitted to operate normally included airports, bus and train stations, medical facilities, libraries, shopping centers, or "other spaces where persons may be in transit” and “typical office environments, factories, or retail or grocery stores.” The ban on faith-based gatherings was enjoined in previous litigation.
Plaintiffs alleged that the Order, facially and as applied, violated their First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly. While Governor Beshear threatened the plaintiffs with prosecution for holding a mass gathering at the state capitol to express their opposition to his COVID-19-related restrictions, he welcomed a large group of Black Lives Matter protestors to the capitol and addressed those protestors, despite their violation of the Order. The district court preliminarily enjoined the Order's enforcement. Governor Beshear withdrew the Order. The Sixth Circuit held that the withdrawal rendered the appeal moot. To the extent that the plaintiffs claim that a threat of prosecution for their past violations keeps the case alive, the court remanded for the district court to determine whether further relief is proper.