Bevin-Beshear political tug of war heading to Supreme Court

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FRANKFORT, Ky. — The political tug of war between Republican Gov. Matt Bevin and Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear will make its way into the Kentucky Supreme Court in August.

Justices are scheduled to hear oral arguments on Aug. 18 in a case in which Beshear is challenging Bevin’s power to abolish the University of Louisville board of trustees and appoint new members.

Bevin had done just that last year. Beshear claims in a lawsuit that Bevin’s action was not legal.

Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd sided with Beshear, and Bevin appealed.

The state's Republican-controlled General Assembly passed a law earlier this year clearly spelling out that the governor does have the power to abolish and reconstitute governing boards at the state’s public universities, which could have made Beshear’s claims in the lawsuit moot.

Justices agreed to hear the case anyway.

"We look forward to the Kentucky Supreme Court hearing this case," Bevin's office said in statement. "A 2015 legal opinion from the attorney general’s office advised that Gov. Bevin could do exactly what AG Beshear is now suing over. AG Beshear continues to disregard decades of Supreme Court legal precedent, by pursuing his political lawsuit merely to benefit those on an old U of L board that raised $750,000 for Beshear political causes.”

Bevin said 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 in a statement. "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.”

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