Federal judge rules against Governor Beshear's travel ban

Published: May. 5, 2020 at 11:32 AM EDT
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A federal judge has ruled against Governor Andy Beshear's travel ban.

The governor told Kentuckians not to travel outside of the state unless for work, health or other essential reasons. He even told people from other states if they came into Kentucky they had to quarantine for 14 days.

It’s 18 pages long, but the order from the US district judge says Governor Beshear’s travel ban does not pass constitutional muster. It says those restrictions infringe on the basic right of citizens to engage in interstate travel.

Governor Beshear issued the executive order back on March 30, saying it was needed to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

He specifically mentioned Tennessee, because Beshear said he believed Tennessee did not have as many restrictions as Kentucky did and as a result, there were more cases of COVID-19 there than in Kentucky.

He ordered that Kentuckians who did travel to other states needed to self-quarantine for 14 days and others who came into Kentucky from other states needed to do the same thing.

The order from Judge William Bertelsman, in the Eastern District of Kentucky in Covington, states that the travel ban would be nearly impossible to enforce, stating that “massive traffic jams would result” from trying to set up checkpoints on the I-75 bridge from northern Kentucky into Cincinnati which is one of the busiest bridges in the nation.

In the order, Bertelsman, also asks the question, who is going to provide all the facilities to do all the quarantining? Governor Beshear was asked about the judge’s order during his 5 p.m. news conference on Monday.

“And I believe the ruling wasn’t based on what the plaintiff was asking, to come over and socialize," Gov. Beshear said. "It was based on driving through a state. Or coming through an airport. And if we need to clarify that we will clarify that. We want legal constitutional orders that still protect our people.”

The federal judge states that the pandemic now pervading the nation must be dealt with but without violating the public’s constitutional rights. It says there are other reasonable ways to achieve the government’s purpose with a lesser burden on constitutionally protected activity.

We have asked the governor’s office to further clarify their response to the injunction but have not yet heard back.