FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - The Kentucky Supreme Court heard oral arguments Thursday as they begin to consider the legality of Gov. Andy Beshear’s COVID-19 orders, including some challenged by businesses in Boone County.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Attorney General Daniel Cameron have each submitted opposing briefs.
The governor’s lawyers have argued the orders saved thousands of lives and Beshear has the constitutional authority to invoke emergency powers during a pandemic.
Cameron has said Beshear “created a new legal code” by issuing more than 150 executive orders and guidance documents in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. He contends the governor’s actions are unconstitutional and violate the Kentucky Constitution, saying the orders exercise “absolute and arbitrary government power.”
The plaintiffs in the Boone County lawsuit are Florence Speedway in Walton, Ridgeway Properties, LLC d/b/a Beans Café & Bakery in Dry Ridge and Little Links to Learning in Fort Wright.
Attorneys for the Boone County businesses, Chris Wiest, Tom Bruns and Bob Winter, are optimistic as they drive down to Frankfort Thursday morning.
“I think what we would like to accomplish today is to restore the rule of law in the commonwealth of Kentucky and for the governor to have to follow the constitution and the statutory procedures that are laid for him to deal with the coronavirus response," Wiest tells FOX19 NOW.
Saying Kentucky needed a clear and consistent statewide public health policy, the state’s top court blocked temporary injunctions issued over the summer by courts in Boone and Scott counties that would have halted or relaxed some of Beshear’s executive orders.
The orders relate to masks in public, education and reduced occupancy in businesses such as restaurants, racetracks and child care.
The Supreme Court stepped into the debate back in July after Boone Circuit Judge Richard Brueggemann declared Beshear’s emergency COVID-19 orders unconstitutional.
Kentucky’s attorney general had intervened on behalf of the businesses in that case and said Brueggemann’s ruling would apply statewide.
Cameron then filed a motion in Boone Circuit Court saying all of Beshear’s COVID-19 emergency orders are arbitrary and violate the Kentuckians constitutional.
The judge agreed, and if the Kentucky Supreme Court hadn’t intervened, Beshear’s emergency COVID-19 orders would have ended.