By Kyeland Jackson —
Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd reaffirmed his ruling on U of L’s Board of Trustees Friday.
Governor Matt Bevin abolished U of L’s Board of Trustees this summer, replacing them with 10 hand-picked members. Shepherd ruled against Bevin’s order after Attorney General Andy Beshear brought the case forward, claiming Bevin did not have the authority to sweep away board members without due cause. Bevin’s attorneys asked the judge to reconsider his ruling, saying the governor demolished the whole board, as opposed to individual members, and thus was within his authority. Shepherd said otherwise.
“It defies common sense, and the basic rules of English grammar, to interpret these facts to mean that those board members were not removed from office, as the governor argues. While they may have been removed by executive order rather than a letter of termination, they were removed nonetheless,” Shepherd’s ruling said.
“The governor may use different terms to describe his action if he chooses. But he cannot alter the reality that his unilateral executive order terminated the service of board members, and effected their removal from office.”
Beshear’s issued a statement shortly after the ruling.
“The governor has now been told twice by the court that his reorganization of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees was illegal. With the university’s accreditation at serious risk, it’s time for the governor to drop any further court action and make the five available appointments to the board,” Beshear’s statement said.
“The students and faculty at U of L deserve to have finality in this case. The governor can give them that by making these appointments.”
Bevin now has 30 days to appeal the ruling. Amanda Stamper, Bevin’s press secretary, promised the governor will appeal the ruling.
“We are disappointed but not surprised by Judge Shepherd’s ruling today. The court continues to ignore binding precedent from the Kentucky court of appeals, the plain language of the statute at issue, and a recent opinion from the office of the attorney general that the governor has authority to propose and temporarily implement the reorganization of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees. Gov. Bevin will certainly file an appeal within the next 30 days.” Stamper said.