A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky Supreme Court sets schedule for hearing on suit against Governor’s executive orders


By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

The Kentucky Supreme Court issued an order on Friday, setting a briefing schedule and a date for oral arguments, in one of the lawsuits filed against Gov. Andy Beshear’s use of executive orders in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.


The matter involves separate rulings by circuit judges in Boone and Scott counties, in cases where Attorney General Daniel Cameron joined the plaintiffs.


The Boone County case involved restrictions in the number of children at a daycare and fans at an auto racetrack in Florence. Boone Circuit Judge Richard Brueggemann also denied a motion by the Governor’s office to quash subpoenas issued by Cameron to the local health department and unemployment insurance officials, among others.


In Scott County, it was an agritourism business, which was also joined by Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles.  In both cases, the circuit judge issued temporary restraining orders preventing the restrictions from being enforced.

Kentucky Supreme Court


Last month, Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Glenn Acree denied a motion by the governor’s attorneys to dissolve the restraining orders, instead combining the two cases into one and assigning it to a three-judge appellate panel.


This led the governor’s legal team to ask the Kentucky Supreme Court for what is called a writ of mandamus, which would require Acree to order the circuit courts to dissolve their restraining orders.


On July 17, in a unanimous ruling, the Kentucky Supreme Court issued a “stay,” which prevents all lower court rulings from taking effect.  It also stated that the lower court findings will be transferred to the seven justices on the High Court.
 

On Friday, the Supreme Court noted the Boone Circuit judge issued an order in which he stated he would have granted a temporary injunction to those suing over the executive orders, so he now has ten days to certify his case to the Supreme Court. The justices also established a briefing schedule.


According to Friday’s Supreme Court order:

• All parties shall submit their first brief, not to exceed 65 pages, to the Clerk of the Supreme Court no later than August 28, 2020.


• All parties shall submit their response brief, not to exceed 25 pages, to the Clerk of the Supreme Court no later than September 8, 2020. No reply briefs will be permitted.

• 
This matter will be scheduled for oral argument on September 17, 2020 at the hour of 10:00 a.m. Parties are advised oral argument may be conducted remotely pending further Order of this Court.

• 
The parties shall file a Notice of Issues stating, in order, the issues to be orally argued by September 14, 2020. For each issue identified in the Notice, the party shall identify the specific section in the party’s brief which addresses that issue.


• The subpoenas are also placed in abeyance until the conclusion of the High Court review.


Meanwhile, the justices noted there have been no additional orders issued by the Scott County judge, so that case will be removed from consideration until after the justices rule on the Boone County case or there are new developments which returns it to the Supreme Court’s scope of the appeals.


The seven justices unanimously agreed to Friday’s order.


The Governor’s Office sent out this statement: “The Governor’s orders are not only constitutional, they are necessary to protect the lives of Kentuckians. If the plaintiffs or attorney general are successful, it will not only remove the rules and regulations that keep us safe but defund public schools that opt to start the year digitally and eliminate worker’s compensation for frontline employees and first responders who have to quarantine because they have COVID.”


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