Hasn't Andy Beshear Heard of the First Amendment?

Hasn't Andy Beshear Heard of the First Amendment?
(AP Photo/Adam Beam)

Or is it that he just doesn’t care?

With the state Supreme Court ruling which allowed Governor Andy Beshear’s (D-KY) draconian and unconstitutional executive orders to stand pending review by that Court — meaning: probably months from now — the Governor has been emboldened to impose more unconstitutional infringements on the rights of Kentuckians. From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Beshear issues travel advisory and limits party size to 10. 258 new KY COVID-19 cases.

By Alex Acquisto¹ | July 20, 2020 | 4:55 PM EDT

As he announced 258 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear limited the size of social gatherings to 10 people and recommended a 14-day quarantine for people traveling to other states with substantial outbreaks.

The travel guidelines, which are not a mandate, ask people traveling to states with an infection rate of 15 percent or higher to quarantine for two weeks when they return home. Those states include Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Arizona, Texas, Nevada and Mississippi.

Yes, I know, Mississippi is listed twice. That was in the original. I believe that the story has been updated, but I’ve exceeded my limit on free stories from kentucky.com, and can’t check that.²

“These are absolutely hot spots that right now are just dangerous, and they are seriously and significantly impacting our numbers,” the governor said, calling the spread of the virus in these areas “uncontrolled.”

Beshear, similarly, cited travel and backyard barbecues as major drivers of Kentucky’s rising infection rate, both of which have been responsible for several clusters. So, by way of executive order, he capped group sizes to 10. Kentuckians were otherwise able to gather in groups as big as 50 people.

There’s more at the original. But, put basically, the Governor is threatening forced business closures if the infection rate does not come down, along with forcing public schools to remain closed to in-person classes this fall.

Now, I cannot object to the Governor asking people who have traveled to certain states to self-quarantine; asking people to do something falls within the Governor’s freedom of speech.

But I very much object to the Governor ordering people to restrict private gatherings to ten people. But I very much object to the Governor ordering people to restrict private gatherings to ten people. What business does the Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky have in whom I invite into my home or my backyard? The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States states that The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States states that:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

As we have previously noted, with the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Court began using the doctrine of selective incorporation to gradually extend the protections of the Bill of Rights to state and local action.

First Amendment 

Of course, Governor Beshear, who used to file lawsuits all the time when he was Attorney General to try to stymie then-Governor Matt Bevin’s (R-KY) actions, seems to have little respect for the Constitution now that he’s sitting in the Governor’s Mansion:

The protesters must have hit a nerve, because Thursday showed a very different scene in Frankfort. The area surrounding the capitol building was roped off with yellow caution tape, and numerous barricades were placed around the exterior of the press room. Police officers standing guard were almost the only people present. Posted on the barricades were signs warning any would-be protesters that no one was permitted past them, and that “Failure to adhere to this Regulation may result in Criminal Penalty under KRS 511.070,” i.e. criminal trespassing in the second degree. Kentucky’s health czar, Dr. Steven Stack M.D., also put out a statement informing would-be dissenters that the capitol grounds were now off limits, except for “the top floor of the Capitol parking garage,” where participants must “remain in their vehicles, in designated parking areas.” Impressively, Beshear also confirmed that, in response to Wednesday’s fiasco, his staff was working to sound-proof the press room. No more embarrassing interruptions would be welcomed during the king’s speeches. It seems public health concerns will conveniently preclude the Bill of Rights in the Bluegrass State.

Lively, peaceful protests are nothing new in Kentucky. The state has seen its fair share of them in recent years, some with controversy. In the summer of 2018, then-Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, tried to limit capitol access for protesters representing the Poor People’s Campaign. Bevin was unsuccessful, in part, due to pressure from the (state) attorney general at the time who said such restrictions violated the law. Thank goodness someone was looking out for the people’s right to freely assemble. In fact, that same attorney general joined Kentucky teachers inside the capitol for a different rally earlier in the year. On March 30, with megaphone in hand, he admonished the Republican-led Legislature over perceived attacks on public education. On April 14, he gushed to a group of teachers that those protests were “an amazing ray of hope.” He went on to say, “You all have been the best example of what government should be, and how people should demand more of their government.” Who was this thoughtful public servant who nobly guarded the citizens’ First Amendment rights? Why, none other than Attorney General (and gubernatorial candidate) Andy Beshear.

No law in the United States can trump the Constitution, and the Governor’s executive order to restrict public gatherings, even on private property, to ten people — or even the fifty previously allowed — cannot stand.

But, of course, they will stand, thanks to the state Supreme Court, which “order(ed) 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.” That means that the court, which will slow-walk everything, is giving the Governor time to keep on doing as he wishes, perhaps long enough for the COVID-19 “emergency” to have passed.

The only legal recourse now is through the federal courts, a slow process. By the time such lawsuits make their way through the federal courts, to what result no one can know in advance, years may have passed, rendering the cases moot. But if there are no judgements against such actions in the face of this “emergency,” then the power of the Governor to restrict our rights in the event of other “emergencies” will be expanded.
¹ – The reporter’s bio at the bottom of the story stated: “Alex Acquisto covers health and social services for the Lexington Herald-Leader and Kentucky.com. She joined the newspaper in June 2019 as a corps member with Report for America, a national service program made possible in Kentucky with support from the Blue Grass Community Foundation. She’s from Owensboro, Ky., and previously worked at the Bangor Daily News and other newspapers in Maine.” Translation: at least part of Miss Acquisto’s salary is being paid by someone other than the newspaper.
² – I can read the stories on my phone, but cannot access them on my computer, so I have been typing in the stories rather than cutting-and-pasting. Any typographical errors are mine, not the Herald-Leader’s, except for the doubling up on listing Mississippi. I did a double-take when reading that, and had to check it twice, and then thrice again, to make certain I wasn’t misreading it. A digital subscription to the Herald-Leader is $1.99 for the first month, but $15.99 per month, or $159.99 for a year, and, quite frankly, the newspaper isn’t worth that. My basic digital subscription to The Washington Post is only $99.00 per year, and that’s an actual newspaper. The New York Times normal digital subscription rate is $221 per year, but, believe me, the Times is far more than 38.13% better than the Herald-Leader.
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