Judge Blocks Bevin’s U of L Board Appointments

Jul 29, 2016

Credit Jacob Ryan/WFPL, cropped

A judge has temporarily blocked Gov. Matt Bevin’s overhaul of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees. 

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd issued the ruling Friday morning.

Bevin abolished the U of L board by executive order in June, sacking the 17-member governing body and replacing it with a 10-member board.

During a surprise press conference announcing the overhaul, Bevin also revealed that James Ramsey, the university’s president, would step down from his position once the new board was in place.

Ramsey officially resigned in an agreement with the newly constituted board late Wednesday evening.

Attorney General Andy Beshear challenged Bevin’s reorganization of the board, arguing that state law protected trustees from being fired without proper cause. Trustees serve for four-year terms; there were two vacancies on the board before Bevin’s executive order.

Bevin’s office argued that the governor has authority to reorganize any state board while the legislature isn’t in session, and that General Assembly would have an opportunity to weigh in on the issue when it reconvenes in January.

During court proceedings, the governor’s office also argued that the overhaul was necessary to put the board back into alignment with state law that requires university boards to reflect the racial and political makeup in the state. The board had too many Democrats and too few racial minorities before the revamp.

Update: Attorney General Andy Beshear released this statement:

“Today’s court ruling is a win for Kentucky students, their families and our public universities. The governor does not have ‘absolute authority’ to ignore the Constitution and Kentucky law. I will continue my job of enforcing our Constitution’s separation of powers so that no one branch of government, regardless of who leads it, has absolute power.”

This story will be updated.