Has Reichsstatthalter Beshear's Mask Order Been Enjoined?


Judge Brian Privett of Scott County had issued an injunction, initially aimed at the Governor’s restrictions on 548 agrotourism businesses, but the judge also ruled that the governor would be restricted in his future orders, stating that the governor must spell out specific details on why they are needed.

Attorney general asks judge to determine legality of Beshear’s COVID-19 mask mandate

By Jack Brammer | July 10, 2020 | 11:55 AM EDT | Updated July 10, 2020 | 5:56 PM EDT

The top two leaders of Kentucky’s General Assembly and Attorney General Daniel Cameron are criticizing Gov. Andy Beshear for mandating the wearing of masks to curb COVID-19 without consulting them, and Cameron on Friday asked a state judge if the order is legally proper.

“As usual, you have put forth this order by edict rather than through collaboration,” said Senate President Robert Stivers, House Speaker David Osborne and Cameron — all Republicans — in a two-page letter sent to Beshear, a Democrat, Thursday night.

They noted in their letter to the governor that earlier Thursday a judge in Scott County “issued a statewide temporary restraining order against your executive orders and guidance.“

Naturally, Governor Andy Beshear (D-KY) was incensed that anyone would have the unmitigated gall to criticize his authoritarian decrees, calling Judge Privett’s order “bizarre” and “not legal,” and whining that Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R-KY) “is the only AG in the country suing their governor over these restrictions.”

Well, there’s a lot of schadenfreude in that one, because, when Mr Beshear was Attorney General, he was constantly using the courts to frustrate then Governor Matt Bevin (R-KY). What goes around, Mr Beshear, comes around!

Mr Cameron is not challenging the Governor’s assertion that wearing face masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is the right thing to do; he has said that it is appropriate to do so, but is challenging Reichsstatthalter Beshear’s authority to simply issue decrees.

Meanwhile, Cameron asked Privett Friday to consider whether Beshear’s mask order “complies with the current temporary restraining order stopping enforcement of COVID-19 executive orders that are not in compliance with state law. “

“Had the governor consulted with our office and the leadership of the General Assembly on his order prior to its issuance, this step would have been unnecessary,” Cameron said in a release. “The governor has refused input on his executive orders, despite offers of assistance. This pattern has led to numerous challenges in court, all of which he has lost.”

The First Street Journal has previously noted that I have no objection to the Governor or any other government officials asking people to wear face masks and take other preventative measures to reduce the spread of disease, but I very much object to the notion that the Governor can rule by decree and simply issue orders to do so.

This has become one of the problems with allowing these state Governors to simply issue royal edicts: they get used to exercising such power. Mr Cameron noted that if the Governor had not seen himself as Reich Governor, he would and could have consulted with the Attorney General and General Assembly leadership. Perhaps our Democratic Governor figured that consulting with ‘lesser’ Republicans might have forced him to issue a less comprehensive, all-inclusive order, or perhaps he simply thought that his judgement alone was all that was required.

Beshear was asked at Friday’s news conference on COVID-19 why he has not included the legislature in coming up with his orders. He said many state lawmakers refuse to wear masks and noted that 26 legislators in Mississippi have tested positive for the virus.

So, because some state senators and representatives have declined to wear masks, Mr Beshear thinks they should simply be ignored, even though they are elected officials.

However, in that I believe that Mr Cameron is wrong: even if the General Assembly passed, and the Governor signed, a state law requiring the wearing of face masks, I believe that such would be an unconstitutional infringement on our right to privacy. Private businesses, operating on private property, should and do have the right to deny entrance to those who decline to wear masks, but the state does not and should not ever have such an all-encompassing authority.

Sadly, too many Kentuckians are sheep: the Herald-Leader story contained a reader poll, in which, when I voted in it, 76.56% of respondents said that yes, they would obey the Reichsstatthalter’s edict, while only 17,92% said they would not, with an additional 5.56% saying that they would do so ‘sometimes.’

The Governor says that his order is in effect, period, though he has already asked the state Court of Appeals to suspend Judge Privett’s order. Regardless of who wins there, the state Supreme Court would be the next avenue of appeal.
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