Kentucky Government Suffers Legal Defeat in Fighting COVID Surge


Frankfort, Kentucky (AP) — The Governor of Kentucky’s aggressive fight against COVID-19 is legal on Saturday as the State High Court paves the way for new legislation to curb his emergency powers. I was defeated.

In a groundbreaking separation of powers case, the Kentucky Supreme Court said the legislature would exercise policy-making power to limit the emergency power granted to the governor by state law.

The ruling ordered lower courts to lift an injunction that had prevented Republican-backed legislation from curbing Democratic governor Andy Beshear’s executive branch for months.

This order could dramatically change the state’s response to a pandemic when viral cases and hospitalizations surge due to highly contagious delta mutants.

The governor’s office immediately warned of the impact. Besser spokesman Crystal Starry said on Saturday that a Supreme Court order would eliminate a pandemic-related emergency in Kentucky. The next step is to determine if lawmakers are ready to extend the state of emergency in a potential special session, she said.

“The governor had the courage to make unpopular decisions to keep Kentucky people safe,” Starley said in a statement. “The court has removed much of his ability to do so to move forward. I hope the General Assembly will do the right thing if convened in a special session.”

According to the latest statistics reported by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Kentucky has so far seen 7,517 COVID-19-related deaths, the 27th highest mortality rate in the country and the 30th per capita. High mortality rate. The overall percentage was lower than in some neighboring states.

Top Republican legislative leaders welcomed the ruling that they recognized the legislature’s “constitutional power to enact legislation.” In a joint statement, Speaker of the House David Osborne and Senator Robert Stevers said, “We are ready to work with the Governor, as we have for almost a year and a half. We will deal with a very realistic public health crisis. “

Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who defended the new law, urged Bescher to consult with lawmakers to “find consensus on what is needed to protect Kentucky citizens.”

Republicans have passed a new law limiting the governor’s emergency authority in response to Bescher’s proactive response to the coronavirus crisis. The governor challenged the action immediately after the veto of the bill was revoked.

The Supreme Court participated in the rare Saturday ruling. The judge said he “does not doubt the governor’s integrity” in taking the steps he believed necessary to deal with the pandemic. However, they said the governor’s allegation that the measure impaired his ability to carry out his constitutional obligations was “mostly unsupported by sound legal principles.”

“In short, given that the disputed legislation was legally passed, the governor’s complaint does not present a substantive legal issue that requires the legislation to remain valid.” , Judge Lawrence B. Van Meter writes.

The ruling sent the case back to the Franklin Circuit Court, instructing the injunction to be lifted.

One of the laws in dispute limits the executive order of the governor in an emergency to 30 days unless extended by lawmakers. Alternatively, businesses and schools must comply with the Governor or the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 guidelines. They can follow the least restrictive criteria.

In favor, Deputy Judge Lisabeth T. Hughes said the Governor’s 30-day limit on emergency authorities deserves legal review from a lower court when the case is returned.

“The 30-day limit basically shifts the day-to-day management of emergencies to the legislature by disabling the executive branch to act after 30 days and forcing the convocation of a special legislative assembly.” Kill Switch. It functions as. “She wrote. “As far as I know, the trigger for this kind of special legislative session does not precede Kentucky law and requires careful constitutional analysis.”

Judge John D. Minton, Jr. joined in favor.

Republican lawmakers said the new law was intended to check what Bescher considered overkill when ordering restrictions. The governor saved his life by maintaining the steps he had taken to limit his activities during the pandemic.

The governor lifted most of his restrictions in June. However, due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, he recently signed an executive order imposing an indoor mask obligation on kindergarten-to-high school, childcare, and pre-kindergarten programs throughout Kentucky. ..

A spokeswoman for the governor pointed out the widespread impact of the resolution of a pandemic-related emergency in Kentucky.

“It’s a lot of money, the steps we’ve taken to improve medical capacity, the expansion of diets for children and families, the steps to fight COVID-19 in long-term care facilities, front-line workers’ accident compensation. Eliminate or endanger workers with COVID-19 and their ability to fight price cuts, “said Starley. “It also prevents the governor from taking additional steps like the general mask command.”

Bescher endured criticism and occasional protests against his pandemic-related behavior. Armed protesters gathered near the governor’s house last year and hung a besher with a statue on a tree near the state capitol.

Last year, the State Supreme Court upheld the governor’s authority to issue coronavirus-related restrictions on businesses and individuals. The legislature responded by passing a new law this year.


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