State Republican leaders send letter to Beshear over his actions

  • Governor Andy Beshear
    Governor Andy Beshear

Courier-Journal is reporting that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker David Osborne sent a joint letter to Andy Beshear critical of his order mandating the wearing of masks in Kentucky.

The letter points out several lawsuits resulting from his unilateral actions without consulting the General Assembly.

In addition, Beshear's actions stand in the face of a temporary restraining order issued by a Scott County circuit court judge on future executive orders from the Governor's office.

Prior to issuing future orders related to the COVID-19 state of emergency, Privett wrote that Beshear must "specifically state the emergency that requires the order, the location of the emergency, and the name of the local emergency management agency that has determined that the emergency is beyond its capabilities" according to a report in the Courier-Journal.

The letter from the Republican leaders reads

Dear Governor Beshear,

We were made aware today, through your press conference, of your executive order mandating Kentuckians wear face coverings in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus. As usual, you have put forth this order by edict rather than through collaboration.

As the chief law officer for the Commonwealth and the leaders of the General Assembly, we are in a unique position to work with you on developing policies that protect public health during this pandemic while respecting the constitutional rights of Kentuckians. As members of Kentucky’s law-making body, the duly elected representatives of the General Assembly are closest to the people and can assist in understanding the needs of local communities and how they will be impacted by mandatory orders.

With nearly half of Kentucky’s workforce unemployed and Kentucky families facing unprecedented hardships, we must work together to ensure that any new policies or executive orders do not further harm our fragile economic recovery.

Instead, you have unilaterally imposed arbitrary and over broad orders that purport to address the spread of the novel coronavirus in the same way—whether in Paducah or Pikeville, or whether in Louisville or Harlan. Unfortunately, your approach has repeatedly violated the Constitution and laws of this Commonwealth. Just today, in fact, the Scott Circuit Court issued a statewide temporary restraining order against your executive orders and guidance. Multiple state and federal courts have similarly enjoined the enforcement of your broad and arbitrary executive orders. See, e.g., Roberts v. Neace, 958 F.3d 409 (6th Cir. 2020) (prohibiting the Governor from enforcing his orders against drive-in and in-person religious services); Maryville Baptist Church, Inc. v. Beshear, 957 F.3d 610 (6th Cir. 2020) (enjoining enforcement of the Governor’s orders that prohibited drive-in religious services); Ramsek v. Beshear, No. 3:20-CV-00036-GFVT, 2020 WL 3446249 (E.D. Ky.June 24, 2020) (enjoining the Governor from enforcing his unconstitutional ban on mass gatherings against political protesters); Tabernacle Baptist Church Inc. of Nicholasville, KY v. Beshear, 3:20-cv-33-GFVT (E.D. Ky. May 8, 2020) (granting temporary restraining order to enjoin the Governor from enforcing the prohibition on mass gatherings with respect to any in-person religious service which adheres to applicable social distancing and hygiene guidelines); Roberts v. Neace, No. 2:20CV054-WOB, 2020 WL 2115358 (E.D. Ky. May 4,2020) (enjoining the Governor from enforcing his travel ban); Florence Speedway, Inc. v. Beshear, No. 20-CI-678 (Boone Cir. Ct. July 2, 2020) (granting temporary restraining order to enjoin the Governor from enforcing certain requirements as against automobile racetracks and day cares).

These court actions could have been avoided had you more carefully considered the constitutional implications and consulted with a broad range of stakeholders. As you say, we are all in this together. We trust the citizens of this Commonwealth to make responsible decisions to protect themselves and their neighbors. As the chief leaders of the Kentucky General Assembly and the chief law officer of this Commonwealth, we ask that you do the same.