Kentucky Supreme Court hears arguments on Gov. Beshear’s COVID-19 orders

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 11:25 AM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - The question of whether Governor Andy Beshear abused his emergency powers went before the state’s highest court today.

Kentucky’s highest court will consider if Governor Beshear’s COVID-19 related emergency powers should stay in effect or be rescinded. However, that decision will come after most of the mandates and restrictions will end.

This all came after the Republican majority House and Senate passed, then overrode vetoes that reigned in Governor Andy Beshear’s powers, primarily when it comes to states of emergency and because of COVID-19.

The governor filed a lawsuit, and now the outcome of all that is in the hands of the state’s highest court to sort it all out.

“Courts can only adjudicate actual cases or controversies between parties,” said Chad Meredith with the counsel for Attorney General Daniel Cameron.

An attorney for the attorney general argued that much of what’s being debated here is a difference of opinion between attorneys. At issue are restrictions and mandates made by the governor and the legislature said he had too much power to execute those.

But the governor’s attorney argued Beshear’s actions worked to save lives and prevent further harm.

“That response has worked. We now have universal vaccine availability down to age 12. Close to 60% of our adult population is now vaccinated,” said Amy Cubbage, attorney for Gov. Beshear.

But business owners who watched the hearing Thursday say Governor Beshear’s mandates were unfair, shutting them down or hurting them while others thrived.

“Our Lexington facility is right behind Target, and right behind Fayette Mall. You could look and see Target’s parking lot and the mall’s lot were packed, and yet we were not allowed to have patrons,” said Ted Mitzlaff with Goodwood Brewing Company.

Some argue the court’s decision is moot with COVID-19 restrictions and mandates ending Friday. But others say it does set a precedent.

“Yes it is. I think Ms. Cubbage acknowledged that there are exceptions, when the court can issue a ruling. We think that’s part of it,” attorney Oliver Dunford said.

“It would have been irresponsible for a governor to not to have the authority to take the actions we have taken here. And it’s critical that governors in the future have this power, too,” Gov. Beshear said on social media.

Gov. Beshear said Kentucky did not have many of the problems other states had and didn’t have the overrun hospitals or death rates, because of what he said was strong executive action and having the courage to use it.

There’s no timetable on when the Supreme Court will issue rulings on Thursday’s arguments.

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