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Federal judge rules Gov. Andy Beshear violated law with executive mask mandate

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Posted at 6:31 PM, Aug 19, 2021

(LEX 18) — A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order against Governor Andy Beshear's executive order mask mandate for schools on Thursday. However, the governor's office says the ruling applies only to schools within the Catholic Diocese of Covington.

In Jason Oswald, et al v. Beshear, the plaintiffs challenged the legality of the executive order issued by Beshear on August 10 requiring all teachers, staff, students and visitors in Kentucky schools to wear face masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.

In judge William Bertelsman's analysis, he states the governor violates KRS39A.090 (3), which is the product of House Bill 1, Senate Bill 1, Senate Bill 2, and House Joint Resolution 77, all passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in its 2021 session.

"The Executive Branch cannot simply ignore laws passed by the duly-elected representatives of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Therein lies tyranny. If the citizens dislike the laws passed, the remedy lies with them, at the polls."

Crystal Staley, the Director of Communications in Governor Beshear's Office, released the following statement:

"The federal court’s ruling could place thousands of Kentucky children at risk and undoubtedly expose them to the most dangerous version of COVID-19 we have ever seen.

"The court ruled without hearing from the Governor and with absolutely no consideration of the consequences of exposure and quarantine that we will see – especially at a time when we are nearly out of staffed hospital beds statewide. Nor was the court provided the Franklin Circuit Court’s injunction of the legislation at issue.

"We will pursue every avenue and option to ensure that we can protect Kentucky’s children.

"Thankfully, while we disagree with the plaintiffs in the case, they have agreed that the order should be narrowed to only apply to their diocese and no other schools.

"Regardless, the Kentucky Department of Education’s emergency regulation remains in effect for public schools, as does the Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ emergency regulation related to child care settings."

There will be a hearing on the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction on August 24.