Horowitz: KY judge rules Gov. Beshear’s COVID, mask orders unconstitutional in breakthrough lawsuit

Horowitz: KY judge rules Gov. Beshear’s COVID, mask orders unconstitutional in breakthrough lawsuit by for The Blaze

It took 15 months for a judge to finally apply the Constitution against the most severe and arbitrary violations of our most basic civil liberties, but it’s better late than never.

On Tuesday, Boone County, Kentucky, Circuit Judge Richard A. Brueggemann issued a permanent injunction against all of Gov. Andy Beshear’s COVID restrictions, including the mask mandate. Unlike the few judicial victories for civil liberties over the past year, this one was broad and sweeping, as it declared these mandates unconstitutional. In granting declaratory relief to a store owner who didn’t want to enforce masks on customers, Judge Brueggemann ruled that “all emergency orders imposed by said Defendants, or that are being continued by said Defendants, are unconstitutional, void and without any legal effect.”

Although Gov. Beshear planned to let the mask mandate expire on Friday anyway, this ruling is still significant because it finally lays down the marker that such mandates are unconstitutional headed forward. The problem champions of civil liberties have had in recent weeks is that, with expiring mandates, many of the lawsuits were dismissed as moot, denying them the opportunity to prevent such restrictions form being implemented in the future, say, for the flu season.

It was somewhat defensible for judges to give leeway for the 15 days or so of the pandemic last March, but shortly thereafter, it became apparent that the situation was no longer emergent and that the restrictions netted absolutely no results in slowing the pandemic. As such, at some point, judges should have held hearings on the facts and evidence behind mask mandates and other restrictions and subjected them to an interest balancing test against the fundamental rights those restrictions infringed upon. The rights to bodily integrity and free movement have long been held as the most grounded fundamental rights that require strict scrutiny of any attempted state-imposed restriction on them.

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