The Kentucky Supreme Court decided Monday to hear Attorney General Andy Beshear’s lawsuit against Gov. Matt Bevin regarding the governor’s authority to reorganize state university boards.
Bevin had told the state’s highest court that Beshear’s lawsuit should be declared moot because the General Assembly addressed the issue earlier this year, but the Supreme Court said oral arguments in the case will be heard at 10 a.m. Aug. 18.
“We look forward to the Kentucky Supreme Court hearing this case,” said Woody Maglinger, press secretary for Bevin. “A 2015 legal opinion from the attorney general’s office advised that Gov. Bevin could do exactly what Attorney General Beshear is now suing over. Attorney General Beshear continues to disregard decades of Supreme Court legal precedent by pursuing his political lawsuit merely to benefit those on an old University of Louisville board that raised $750,000 for Beshear political causes.”
Beshear sued Bevin last year after Bevin abolished and reorganized the University of Louisville’s governing board. The Democratic attorney general said the Republican governor did not have legal authority to overhaul the board.
Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd sided with Beshear and Bevin appealed the trial court’s decision.
Beshear said Monday that he appreciates “the Supreme Court understanding how critical this issue is. Judge Shepherd ruled that Gov. Bevin does not have ‘absolute authority’ to dissolve or reorganize a university board any time and for any reason.”
Beshear said a ruling from the Supreme Court is “necessary to protect the accreditation of all our public universities, and to stop Gov. Bevin’s unprecedented reorganization of more than 37 boards and an anticipated 39 more boards.”
Earlier this year, the state legislature passed a law giving the governor broader powers to reorganize university boards.
In a motion filed with the Kentucky Supreme Court last week, Bevin’s general counsel, Steve Pitt, wrote the case is moot because of the legislative action. Beshear argued the case should be heard to stop the governor from reorganizing other boards.
Beshear won a case against Bevin before the Supreme Court last year that challenged the governor’s authority to make mid-year cuts to university budgets.
He also is threatening to sue Bevin over the governor’s recent reorganization of several state education boards. Bevin on Friday modified the June 2 executive order that had given him more power over several education boards, panels and committees in the state.
Beshear spokesman Terry Sebastian said Monday that Beshear is carefully reviewing the amended order.
“After review, if action is necessary, it will come later this week,” Sebastian said