September 28, 2017

Court dismisses Bevin’s board of trustees case

Photo courtesy / The Courier-Journal

By Shelby Brown–

The Kentucky Supreme Court dismissed the case on Governor Matt Bevin’s authority to abolish or reorganize U of L’s Board of Trustees. The court declined a ruling because Bevin had rewritten the law, empowering him to reorganize the board.

Bevin’s office released a statement on Twitter commending the court’s decision, saying it underscored the Governor’s original commitment to reform the board.

“Today puts an end to Attorney General Andy Beshear tossing the future of the University of Louisville around like a political football,” Bevin’s Twitter statement said.

Despite the case being called “moot” by the courts, Beshear considers this a win. On Twitter, Beshear said until Sept. 28, Bevin claimed authority to dissolve a university board at will.

“Under the Supreme Court’s ruling, Governor Bevin can no longer use the reorganization statute to dissolve a university board, an action that had dire consequences for the University of Louisville,” Beshear said in a statement.

Beshear said the ruling provides protection for all Kentucky universities going forward.

In June 2016, Bevin used the Reorganization Statute to dissolve and reassemble U of L’s board of trustees. The shake up put U of L on its accrediting agency’s radar for violating governance standards. Beshear challenged Bevin in circuit court last year, asking the courts to block the governor’s new trustee appointments.

“I challenged the governor’s action in court, not just because of what happened to U of L, but if he had done it to U of L, he could do it to any other university,” Beshear said in a Twitter video.

According to Beshear, Bevin was bailed out when the General Assembly wrote two new laws this year. Senate Bill 107 gave the governor power to dissolve the university’s board. Senate Bill 12 officially disbanded the board.

Beshear said that while the case was dismissed, Bevin is not allowed to use the statute again to reorganize any public university.

“It means the governor has to follow the law,” Beshear said.

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