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Kentucky Supreme Court rules new laws limiting governor’s executive powers stand

(Source: WKYT)
Published: Aug. 21, 2021 at 9:50 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 21, 2021 at 12:19 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - The Kentucky Supreme Court unanimously ordered the Franklin Circuit Court to dissolve an injunction that stopped new laws passed by the state legislature to be implemented.

Governor Andy Beshear filed a lawsuit in February after the legislature passed several laws limiting his executive powers. The Franklin Circuit Court issued an injunction on those laws.

The Kentucky Supreme Court Saturday found that the Franklin Circuit Court abused its discretion in issuing the temporary injunction, and sent the case back to the Franklin Circuit Court with instructions to dissolve the injunction.

“To take away tools that this governor needs is hurtful, frankly, to those of us who have lost friends and family to COVID,” said Colmon Elridge, Chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party.

The ruling allows the Republican-backed laws that limit Governor Andy Beshear’s emergency powers. Echoing similar sentiments from the governor’s office, Elridge said the governor was making life-saving decisions. And the ruling will prevent this at a time where cases are rising again.

“This has never been about politics for some of us, for most of us. It’s been about watching people that we love get sick,” Elridge said.

The full 34-page court decision can be read below.

Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon issued a statement on the ruling. Harmon, who is running for governor in 2023, said “Today’s ruling by the Kentucky Supreme Court reaffirms the clear checks and balances that exist between the Executive and Legislative branches and how essential those are to prevent overreach by one side or the other.”

Like Attorney General Cameron said in a statement, Harmon says he also believes the governor should work with the General Assembly during the pandemic, further saying he doesn’t believe in mandates.

“I am glad to see today, that balance, at least for the moment, was restored,” said Harmon. “I understand his goal to try and save lives. But you have to weigh the pros and cons of all of it. People losing businesses, depression sets in, an increase in suicides.”

He went on to say the governor needs to communicate and work with members of the General Assembly.

Today’s ruling by the Kentucky Supreme Court reaffirms the clear checks and balances that exist between the Executive...

Posted by Mike Harmon on Saturday, August 21, 2021

A spokesperson for the governor released a statement in response to the ruling. In it, Crystal Staley said the Supreme Court’s ruling will dissolve Kentucky’s entire State of Emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It either eliminates or puts at risk large amounts of funding, steps we have taken to increase our health care capacity, expanded meals for children and families, measures to fight COVID-19 in long-term care facilities, worker’s compensation for front-line workers who contract COVID-19 as well as the ability to fight price gouging.” Staley said.

The governor’s office said the court has removed much of Beshear’s ability to make unpopular decisions in order to keep Kentuckians safe.

“If called in to a special session, we hope the General Assembly would do the right thing.” the statement said.

According to our news partners at the Herald-Leader, Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican, said he hopes Beshear “will now consult with our General Assembly and find consensus on what is needed to protect Kentuckians.”

The court also ruled on a Scott County Circuit Court injunction that attempted to block Gov. Beshear from issuing further pandemic-related executive orders. It was vacated on the grounds that courts are “not empowered to enjoin possible future violations”.

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