The Kentucky Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that Gov. Matt Bevin didn’t do anything wrong in 2017 when he overhauled several state boards that deal with public education.
Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear sued Bevin over the actions, arguing that the governor had circumvented the legislature’s lawmaking authority by appointing non-voting charter school advisers to the Kentucky Board of Education and totally replacing boards that deal with certifying teachers and establishing curriculum standards, among other changes.
But on Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that Bevin has the power to temporarily reshape the boards while the legislature isn’t in session.
“We find the various education boards at issue fall within the ambit of the Governor’s temporary-reorganization-outside-of-session power,” the opinion written by Chief Justice John Minton states.
“We cannot accept the Attorney General’s suggested statutory interpretation in the face of such clear text.”
The legal challenge is one of several that Beshear has filed against Bevin since the two took office three and a half years ago.
It’s also the second time that Beshear has challenged Bevin’s authority to overhaul boards, as he did when Bevin abolished the University of Louisville board of trustees and replaced it with new members.
In that case, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the issue was moot because the legislature passed a law giving Bevin broader power over university boards.
Following the ruling Thursday, Bevin released a statement calling Beshear’s lawsuit a “shameful waste of taxpayer resources.”
“The Court forcefully rejected every single one of Andy’s arguments, finding that he ‘ignored’ the constitution and that his positions ‘contradict the plain and explicit text’ of Kentucky law. After such a stinging defeat, the self-proclaimed ‘people’s lawyer’ should, for once, think about actually helping the people of Kentucky instead of suing them,” Bevin wrote.
Beshear is also challenging Bevin during this year’s race for governor.
Following the ruling, Beshear took to Twitter to say that, given the court’s ruling, he would reshape the state Board of Education if elected.
“The stakes for public education just got higher this election. The KY Supreme Court ruled that Matt Bevin has even more power to enact his anti-public school agenda. As governor, I’ll have that same authority & I’ll create a new KY Board of Education that values public education,” Beshear wrote.
The Kentucky Board of Education is comprised of 11 voting members appointed by the governor who serve four-year terms.
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin didn't expect such narrow margins in Tuesday's primary. He managed to win the Republican Party nomination with 52 percent of the vote, to face Attorney General Andy Beshear in November. The victory lays the groundwork for a bitter gubernatorial battle. Beshear has filed several lawsuits against the Bevin Administration. Now the two will spar on the campaign trail.