In a unanimous decision Thursday the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld Gov. Andy Beshear’s emergency regulations to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The state’s highest court issued a 103-page decision that declared Beshear acted appropriately declaring a state of emergency in March and was within his authority to invoke powers granted to him under state law.
Scott Circuit Court Judge Brian Privett issued a temporary restraining order against Beshear July 9 in a lawsuit brought by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and its commissioner Ryan Quarles and Evans Orchard and Cider Mill. The lawsuit challenged the governor’s use of executive power during the pandemic. The Scott County case was not part of the court decision Thursday and will be dealt with later. Quarles is a Scott County native and Evans Orchard is located in Scott County.
The case included in Thursday’s decision involved a similar case in Boone County brought by an automobile race track, a bakery and a child care center.
“The Governor’s orders were, and continue to be, necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of all Kentucky citizens,” wrote the court in its opinion. “This type of highly contagious etiological hazard is precisely the type of emergency that requires a statewide response and properly services as a basis for the Governors actions under KRS Chapter 39A.”
Dozens of emergency orders issued by Beshear will now stay in effect. These orders include wearing a mask in public, child care center class sizes, restaurant seating capacity and others.
State Attorney General Daniel Cameron joined many of the lawsuits questioning how the restrictions were implemented. Arguments were heard on Sept. 17.
Representing Beshear was La Tasha Buckner who told the court the governor has the responsibility and legal authority to react quickly to emergency situations. Chad Meredith, solicitor general for the attorney general’s office, told the court that Beshear “created his own legal code.”
Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Glen Acree declined to stop the retraining orders issued in Scott and Boone counties combined the two cases, and assigned the case to a three-judge appellate panel.
Beshear’s attorneys then appealed to the state Supreme Court, which put a hold on the retraining orders, leaving all the orders in effect until the court could hear the case and had all similar cases transferred to the high court.
Mike Scogin can be reached at email@example.com.