The Supreme Court of Kentucky ruled in favor of Governor Andy Beshear’s COVID-19 restrictions Thursday, reversing a lower court’s ruling for businesses that challenged the mandates.
In late June, three business owners from northern Kentucky filed suit following Beshear’s state of emergency declaration in March. Following the statewide declaration, the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services issued orders “designed to reduce and slow the spread of COVID-19 and thereby promote public health and safety.”
The business owners challenged the governor’s various orders affecting their businesses and the governor’s general emergency authority. They argued that “an injunction serves the public interest because the Governor’s orders have caused economic hardships and burdened the constitutional rights of citizens.” State Attorney General Daniel Cameron intervened as a plaintiff.
The Boone County Circuit Court conducted a hearing on the matter in July 2020 and issued an order “that granted the temporary injunction against enforcement of the Governor’s orders.” The court reasoned that the businesses would suffer “irreparable harm” caused by the executive orders.
In its 103-page opinion, the Kentucky Supreme Court concluded that the governor properly invoked his emergency powers and that no violation of the separation of powers had occurred. The Court found that “because the law and equities favor the Governor … it was an abuse of discretion of the trial court to issue the temporary injunction.” The court, in weighing the interests of the plaintiffs and the public health of Kentuckians as a whole, upheld Beshear’s orders.