Court Stifles Democratic Governor's Emergency Powers, Signals End of Suffocating COVID Policies
It’s always good when a dictator masquerading as a politician is taken down a notch or two, and the top court of the state of Kentucky has done just that.
A landmark separation of powers case came before the state’s Supreme Court as the legislature sought to challenge Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s emergency powers.
The blow to Beshear’s “aggressive” COVID-19 attack plan came when the high court decided Saturday that state law allows the legislature to check his powers, according to The Associated Press.
More specifically, the news agency reported, the decision “ordered a lower court to dissolve an injunction that for months had blocked the Republican-backed laws from curbing [Beshear’s] executive authority” and could “significantly alter the state’s response to the pandemic.”
Beshear issued an executive order on Aug. 10 mandating that Kentucky’s public school students wear masks, but he rescinded that order on Monday in light of the high court’s decision, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
However, the Kentucky Board of Education’s mask policy requiring all public school students to wear face coverings is still in effect, however, according to WKYT-TV in Lexington.
And according to the Herald-Leader, the DOE has no plans to change.
“The Kentucky Department of Education said in a statement Saturday that the court decision has no bearing on the Kentucky Board of Education’s emergency regulation requiring masks in public schools,” the newspaper reported.
“On Monday, it said in a statement that the ‘emergency regulation stands on its own authority, so the regulation is still in effect and in place.'”
Now, Beshear is flirting with the idea of proposing a statewide mandate instead, the Herald-Leader reported.
But the Kentucky Supreme Court’s decision means he must now seek the legislature’s approval before going further with the idea.
Beshear, according to the Herald-Leader, said a special legislative session is “likely to put in place virus-fighting laws and be sure the statewide emergency remains in effect.”
However, the AP reported that Crystal Staley, a spokeswoman for Beshear’s office, stressed that the court’s ruling will have consequences.
An end to the COVID-related state of emergency ranks among them.
Beshear will have to consult the legislature if he hopes to extend this state of emergency — or if he hopes to implement more restrictive measures.
The system of checks and balances between the executive, legislative and judicial branches ensures a less concentrated, less dictatorial and fairer governmental process.
Granting one official — particularly, an executive — uncontested emergency powers extends far beyond the limits of this balanced system Americans are accustomed to.
The Kentucky high court’s decision casts aside dictatorial overreach and favors not only the checks and balances system, but also individual liberties and discretion — two things Americans have seen stripped from us throughout the COVID-19 pandemic (regardless of the state we’re in).
We can sit back and watch as Beshear’s powers crumble over the coming days and weeks, and observe how Kentucky reshapes its COVID-19 response in light of a more balanced governmental input.
It’s safe to assume some restrictions will remain considering the highly contagious delta variant’s surge sweeping the state, but we can still expect to see a less restrictive, more personal discretion-based practice take form with time.
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