We are officially in the 13th month of the COVID-19 pandemic in America. Despite the hardships our country has faced, it’s been refreshing to watch governors around the country respect the constitutional guarantees to separation of powers.
As vaccines have begun being administered and we know far more about the novel Coronavirus than we did at the start, governors have willingly reined in their emergency powers. Take Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, for example. Any governor could have used this pandemic to abuse their power and prolong emergency statutes that are no longer of the utmost importance. But not Andy.
In an act that showed true benevolence and restraint, Gov. Beshear respected the state assembly’s passage of legislation that would limit executive authority and place limits on his use of emergency powers.
Gov. Beshear gave the legislature the “thumbs up” and immediately agreed to end the state of emergency in Kentucky. His only critique of the legislation was to ask lawmakers why they didn’t pass the series of bills sooner.
There was no tyrannical tantrum, he didn’t threaten to file a lawsuit against the legislature, and he certainly didn’t caution Kentuckians that without him at the helm of the ship unilaterally making decisions for each individual, the state would succumb to the horrors of COVID-19.
Showing true leadership and respect for his voters, the legislature, and our Constitution, he relinquished his power, demonstrating benevolence and a deep regard for executive limitations.
Instead of jeopardizing the livelihoods of local restaurant owners who are financially suffocating in the wake of the pandemic-related shutdowns, Gov. Beshear encouraged them to reopen, following enhanced safety protocols to protect their patrons while still being able to earn a living and provide for their families.
Everyone was grateful, and even in the early weeks of this new abdication of power, we are already seeing Kentucky’s economy thrive as businesses are being allowed to safely reopen without the governor arbitrarily deciding which industries are allowed to stay financially afloat.
Other states ought to take note—this is what real leadership looks like.
Instead of respecting the constitutional protections of separation of powers, Gov. Beshear immediately sued the Kentucky General Assembly after the legislature passed a series of bills reining in his use of emergency powers.
The legislature also passed a resolution extending some, but not all, of Gov. Beshear’s emergency orders. He vetoed that, claiming that the legislature has no say over his orders, and that he has an inherent power to issue emergency orders.
Working with others in the state, like the Pegasus Institute, Pacific Legal Foundation has filed suit on behalf of three restaurants that have been, and continue to be, economically devastated by the state’s continued lockdown and Gov. Beshear’s use of emergency powers to determine which companies win, and which are forced to close their doors.
Satire aside, this is a serious issue that threatens the constitutional separation of powers. To ensure that no branch of government can overpower the other, executive limitations need to be abided by, and respected by, governors across the country.