Kentucky Attorney General Joins Lawsuit Against Gov. Andy Beshear's Travel Ban, Calls It Unconstitutional

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has joined a lawsuit against Gov. Andy Beshear, saying his out-of-state travel ban is unconstitutional.

A woman from northern Kentucky sued Beshear, a Democrat, and Cameron, over the governor's executive orders prohibiting Kentuckians from traveling across state lines amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But Cameron, a Republican, has now filed a motion to realign himself as a plaintiff "because his interests coincide" with the existing plaintiffs. In the filing, Cameron says Beshear's ban "impermissibly violates the fundamental right of every Kentucky citizen to interstate travel."

"Kentuckians have a fundamental and constitutional right to freely travel from one state to another," Cameron said in a statement on Monday. "While the spread of COVID-19 requires Kentuckians to follow CDC recommendations for social distancing and use caution when traveling, the Governor's order is overly broad by banning nearly all travel.

"If the Governor is going to ask Kentuckians to surrender their constitutional right to freely travel as part of the fight against COVID-19, such a restriction must be narrowly tailored. The sweeping scope of his travel ban, if left unchecked, creates a dangerous precedent."

Cameron spoke about the lawsuit during a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, where he also urged Beshear to permit in-person church services to resume, vowing to file a lawsuit if he doesn't.

Kentucky
A worshiper holds a sign to alert drivers to the drive-in service at On Fire Christian Church on April 05, 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky. Andy Lyons/Getty Images

"By specifically banning faith-based mass gatherings while allowing other secular organizations and activities to continue operation, Gov. Beshear has deliberately targeted religious groups," he said.

He added: "Kentucky law gives the Governor broad power during a state of emergency, but it does not give him the power to violate the First Amendment by discriminating against faith-based practices.

"We cannot, in good faith, move forward from this health crisis together if we have allowed faith-based groups to be unfairly targeted during the process. Governor Beshear should immediately rescind the executive orders targeting faith-based gatherings, and, if he doesn't, then we will be forced to file a lawsuit and allow a judge to determine whether his order, as it pertains to religious groups, is constitutional."

The Louisville Courier Journal reported that Cameron had filed an amicus brief on Wednesday in support of a church that is suing Beshear over his ban on mass gatherings.

According to the newspaper, Cameron's brief claims the ban unfairly targets religious gatherings, while permitting gatherings at places such as grocery stores.

Beshear addressed Cameron's remarks on travel and church services during his daily briefing on Tuesday.

He noted that while he has banned mass gatherings in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, his order does not single out religious services.

"In both cases we've had early rulings by a judge indicating that they are likely to rule that everything we have done is legal," he added. "Folks, I'm not trying to set rules that are difficult and I'm not trying to set rules that are controversial. I'm just trying to set rules that save people's lives."

On Wednesday, he unveiled a tentative reopening schedule for the state, saying houses of worship could resume in-person services from May 20 at a reduced capacity if they comply with social distancing, cleaning and other accommodations.

Beshear issued a "Healthy At Home" order urging Kentuckians to stay at home from March 26 and directed only "life-sustaining" businesses to remain open. He later issued an order restricting travel to other states during the pandemic, except for limited reasons such as to go to work or get groceries.

Kentucky has more than 4,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 235 deaths, according to the latest data from the Kentucky Department of Public Health.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.
Kentucky Attorney General Joins Lawsuit Against Gov. Andy Beshear's Travel Ban, Calls It Unconstitutional | U.S.