State Supreme Court to decide how far executive power goes

 

(Photo by Joe Kovacs)

One fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic that has engulfed the United States over the last year is the many new laws and rules that limit the authority of governors.

Many governors have been cited for unconstitutional orders, including allowing abortion businesses to operate while shutting down churches.

In some instances, however, the law isn’t clear, and several states have been addressing the issue, including Kentucky, where the state Supreme Court is preparing to rule.

Gov. Andrew Beshear issued a number of executive orders that courts declared unconstitutionl, but he continued enforcing them anyway.

Now, the Pacific Legal Foundation says the state Supreme Court will review the separation of powers dispute.

“We’re excited to present our clients’ case to the Kentucky Supreme Court,” said Oliver Dunford, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “We hope the court will agree with our simple proposition that the governor—like everyone else in the Commonwealth must follow the laws.”

The case was brought by the owners of several brewpubs and restaurants after the governor’s restrictions were overruled by the Kentucky legislature.

“Despite the veto, Gov. Beshear continues to demand Kentuckians’ compliance with orders that have expired under the newly enacted laws,” PLF said.

The legislature had approved safeguards on executive emergency powers, specifying that any emergency order expires after 30 days unless it is extended by lawmakers.

Further, the lawmakers said the governor could not use a “substantially similar order” to continue his restrictions.

The bill that overrode the governor’s plan was SB1, which followed PLF’s principles for emergency powers reform.

“The government may need the ability to move swiftly in times of emergency, but extraordinary government powers cannot last forever. Senate Bill 1 places much-needed safeguards on executive emergency powers,” said Daniel Dew, PLF’s legal policy director. “We hope state legislatures around the country follow suit and reclaim their proper places as lawmaking bodies.”

PLF said it also was working with other state legislatures across the country on restrictions on the emergency powers of governors.

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Author: Bob Unruh


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