Kentucky Supreme Court leaves Beshear’s COVID-19 orders in place until ruling

Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office filed a motion to prohibit the governor from issuing or enforcing any COVID-19 orders.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentuckians must still follow Gov. Andy Beshear’s COVID-19 orders until a decision is made by the Kentucky Supreme Court, the court ordered Friday.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office filed a motion Wednesday asking a Boone Circuit Court judge to prohibit the governor from issuing or enforcing any executive orders surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The judge has indicated he would sign an order siding with the Attorney General’s office.

While the Supreme Court said the judge can make a decision, no rulings will go into effect until after the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“Given the need for a clear and consistent statewide public health policy and recognizing that the Kentucky legislature has expressly given the Governor broad executive powers in a public health emergency, the Court orders a stay of all orders of injunctive relief until such time as the various orders are properly before the Court with a full record of any evidence and pleadings considered by the lower courts,” the order says.

The order impacts not just Cameron’s recent motion, but a previous decision by a Scott Circuit Court judge that put a restraining order against Beshear’s orders after Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and Evan Orchard filed a lawsuit alleging Beshear’s orders were constitutional.

Beshear said he was “relieved” to hear the Supreme Court’s decision.

“If we want to argue in front of court let’s do it…but let’s make sure along the way we don’t risk the lives of Kentuckians in the process,” Beshear said.

Cameron has insisted that his motion is not political, saying it is “about making sure [Beshear] follows the law.”

“Our goal in joining these cases is that the law is followed and the rights of Kentuckians are protected,” Cameron tweeted. “We look forward to having the Supreme Court take up these important issues in the coming days.”

House and Senate Democratic Leadership released a statement on the decision, saying they were “extremely happy” to see its order.

“The law giving the governor emergency powers is clear, indisputable and built on a solid legal foundation, and the General Assembly reaffirmed that by adding to it at the start of the pandemic,” they said. “If Attorney General Daniel Cameron had had his way, dozens if not hundreds of Kentuckians could have gotten sick and died.”

Current COVID-19 orders, including Beshear’s mask mandate, will be in place until further notice.

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