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Ky. Supreme Court says Beshear’s COVID-19 orders will stand for now

Published: Jul. 17, 2020 at 9:07 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 17, 2020 at 3:48 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT/FOX19) - The Kentucky Supreme Court has issued a stay in the Scott and Boone County COVID-19 cases. That means Gov. Beshear’s COVID-19 orders will stand for now.

In its dramatic order, the high court said the two lower courts could proceed with coronavirus-related issues before them and issue “finding of fact and conclusions of law.” But the Supreme Court said “no order, however characterized, shall be effective.”

[Gov. Beshear spoke about the legal battle during his Friday press conference]

“Given the need for a clear and consistent statewide public health policy and recognizing that the Kentucky legislature has expressly given the Governor broad executive powers in a public health emergency, the Court orders a stay of all orders of injunctive relief until such time as the various orders are properly before the Court with a full record of any evidence and pleadings considered by the lower courts,” the ruling read.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed this week to block Beshear’s previous orders, as well as any future restrictions.

Beshear’s office acknowledged it was anticipating the lower court order that would “void all of the orders the governor has issued to keep us safe.”

Friday’s state Supreme Court ruling keeps the restrictions in place until they can be fully heard and ruled upon by the Circuit and potentially Appeals courts.

Responses to the petition are due on Aug. 4, 2020. After that, the Supreme Court of Kentucky will determine whether it wishes to schedule arguments in the case and if so, an order scheduling oral argument will be issued.

If not, the matter will be taken under consideration on the briefs.

Read the Supreme Court’s order:

PREVIOUS: Boone County judge Rick A. Brueggemann issued a late-night temporary injunction blocking several of Gov. Beshear’s executive orders related to the coronavirus pandemic, the latest in a series of legal defeats for Kentucky’s leader.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron tweeted out the development Thursday night.

It comes after a lengthy hearing earlier in the day at Boone County Circuit Court in a case against the governor and other state officials.

The plaintiffs are Florence Speedway in Walton, Theodore J. Roberts of Burlington, Ridgeway Properties, LLC d/b/a Beans Café & Bakery in Dry Ridge and Little Links to Learning in Fort Wright.

The judge also indicated that he will likely side with Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s request to issue a restraining order against all of the governor’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Cameron has said these motions aren’t about public safety, but about making sure the governor followed the law when issuing them.

Because of the judge’s decision, some of the governor’s orders for restaurants, businesses and child care will be relaxed.

Earlier Thursday, Beshear criticized Cameron during the governor’s daily coronavirus briefing. He said Kentucky is at a critical moment in the battle against COVID-19.

“What we are seeing across the country is alarming. We are seeing state after state not just facing escalating cases, but facing devastation,” Beshear said.

As of Thursday, there are 413 new positive cases of COVID-19 in the states, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 21,803, according to the governor. This includes five children who were recently diagnosed, including two newborns who are just 2-month-old, according to Beshear.

“Today, we have a record number of kids under 5 diagnosed with COVID-19. These kids are counting on us to do the right thing,” he said.

Out of the total confirmed cases in Kentucky, 5,500 have recovered, health officials say. Of the amount of current positive cases, 418 are in the hospital.

Beshear said Cameron is “seeing to invalidate the executive orders that keep us safe from COVID-19.”

He accused the attorney general of trying to void:

  • Healthy at Work requirements;
  • Expanded workers’ compensation eligibility for workers – including first responders, active military and grocery store employees – who are ordered to quarantine as a result of exposure; and
  • A measure that waives copays, deductibles, cost-sharing and diagnostic testing fees for private insurance.

“Today the attorney general asked a court in Boone County to overturn every single order we have put in place to protect people and to stop my office from putting in any future order to keep us safe,” Beshear said. “It’s truly frightening. Companies wouldn’t even have to sanitize. In the middle of a worldwide pandemic. It means we would fail. It means people would die. Those are the facts, and that’s the truth.”

Cameron took to Twitter to defend himself, writing: “Today, we are in court to protect the rights of Kentuckians and ensure that the process used by the Governor to issue Executive Orders complies with the law. This is not about the Governor’s policies, it’s about making sure he follows the law.”

Governor Beshear has made it clear his goal is to get all of these cases, including another one in Scott County, in front of the state supreme court with the hopes that they would make a final ruling.

We spoke with Judge Brueggeman’s office and they told us they don’t know when that order will come down. They said it could happen Friday, or even sometime Saturday.

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