- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 20, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration has asked a judge to throw out a legal settlement made under former Gov. Steve Beshear that was meant to ensure church-run foster care programs don’t sway children to their religious beliefs.

Executive branch lawyers said this week that the court should undo the settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Courier-Journal reported (https://cjky.it/2atVLI1 ). The state’s position and all-around “philosophy” has changed now that Bevin is in office, the lawyers said in court filings.

Bevin is a Republican, while Beshear is a Democrat.

Alex Luchenitser, an attorney for Americans United, said the state must stick to the agreement.

“It’s a binding agreement and there is no basis for the state to get out of the agreement,” Luchenitser said.

The state agreed in 2014 to let Americans United and the ACLU access surveys and exit interviews with children under certain conditions to ensure foster programs aren’t trying to proselytize to children. According to the settlement, the two organizations can access the information only if a state inspector general investigation has been initiated.

Sunrise Children’s Services, the foster care company at the heart of the legal battle, has opposed the agreement. It objects to the ACLU and Americans United acting as enforcers of the agreement and having access to confidential client information, said John Sheller, an attorney representing the foster care agency.

Sunrise is scheduled to file written arguments in the case later this week.

Bevin’s cabinet argues that the new agreement is invalid for numerous reasons, including that it violates a Court of Appeals ruling on how such a settlement is carried out. The administration also said the Kentucky General Assembly would never agree to terms of the settlement.

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Information from: The Courier-Journal, https://www.courier-journal.com

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