A judge denied a Kanawha County high school quarterback’s motion to intervene in the court case seeking to throw out the color-coded school reopening map.
Kanawha Circuit Court Judge Tod Kaufman wrote in a court filing Wednesday that Robert Tyler Alexander’s attempt to join the ongoing litigation came too close to Friday morning’s scheduled hearing on the case. Alexander, a senior quarterback at George Washington High School, filed the motion to intervene last Friday.
Kaufman wrote that “the right to play sports has clearly different constitutional protections” than the protections allegedly being violated during the case at hand. Alex McLaughlin, a Charleston attorney and parent to two school-aged children, filed the original petition on the grounds the color-coded map unlawfully discriminates against children attending in-person classes.
“The Alexander case is clearly distinguishable and different from the McLaughlin case ... the motion is hereby denied on its face,” Kaufman wrote.
Kaufman ordered the circuit clerk to randomly assign the case to one of the court’s seven judges, writing that Alexander may file the motion to intervene as a separate action. He wrote that McLaughlin’s children should not have to wait longer for their day in court on the color-coded map, “which may infringe on their due process rights to a thorough and efficient education.”
Alexander alleged in the motion that the state’s actions in restricting public school students like him from participating in sports and extracurricular activities when counties turn red or orange on the map, but not restricting others in the community, is unfair and unconstitutional.
McLaughlin made the similar argument in his original petition, that the color-coded map has consequences only for children attending school — a constitutionally privileged activity in West Virginia — and not for any other individuals or businesses.
“Students are being singled out and their assembly is being restricted, while adults are permitted to assemble, and other kinds of assemblies are being permitted, and that is not justified under the [West Virginia] Constitution,” McLaughlin said in a previous report.
The hearing was moved to the ceremonial courtroom in the old Kanawha County Courthouse, according to an order issued Tuesday. It still will take place at 8 a.m. Friday. Less than 30 people, including counsel, court staff and clients, are permitted to attend. Members of the public and news media will be allowed in only if there is room, according to the order.
To watch the hearing virtually, email firstname.lastname@example.org to request the livestream link.