‘Absolute And Arbitrary Power’: Bars, Restaurants Sue Gov. Beshear Over COVID-19 Lockdowns

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Andrew Afifian Contributor
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Owners of pubs and restaurants in Kentucky have filed a lawsuit in state court to stop their governor from issuing more executive orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lawsuit filed Monday by the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) — which is representing the businesses — asked the court to compel Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear to abide by the restrictions set forth in three bills recently passed by the Kentucky legislature, the Courier-Journal reported.

The three bills, passed in early February by an override of the governor’s veto, limit Beshear’s ability to issue new COVID restrictions, the Courier-Journal reported. However, a Franklin County Circuit Court judge blocked their implementation by issuing a temporary injunction on March 3, according to the outlet.

PLF’s lawsuit seeks “temporary and permanent injunctions” against the governor’s existing pandemic-related orders and subsequent ones, according to the Courier-Journal. The lawsuit alleges the governor’s orders violate the plaintiff’s constitutional right against absolute and arbitrary exercise of government power. (RELATED: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear Mandates Wearing Masks Amid Rise In Coronavirus Cases)

The legislature has the constitutional obligation to weigh in on the Commonwealth’s emergency powers and ensure they are not used to arbitrarily restrict individuals and businesses. Even during times of crisis, the government must adhere to the separation of powers to protect people’s individual liberty and freedom,” PLF attorney Oliver Dunford said in a statement.

The bills would impact the operations of not only pubs and restaurants but also schools, nonprofits and churches, the Courier-Journal reported.

Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul criticized Beshear’s COVID-19 orders last December, tweeting, “My own petty tyrant Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has closed the schools again too, defying everything we know about how the disease spreads and the harm it does to kids to be home.”

In April 2020, Kentuckians attending a drive-in Easter Service were met by police presence to enforce the governor’s stay-at-home order. Worshippers also found nails dumped on the church parking lot.