The highest court in the commonwealth has determined Governor Andy Beshear can use the executive power of his office in pretty much any way he wishes in an effort to handle the COVID-19 crisis.
That decision was handed down unanimously on Thursday morning.
It was a big victory for Beshear and a major setback for Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who had challenged many of the orders/mandates/suggestions put in place by the governor since March.
There will likely be serious legislative challenges to this ruling in the near future. Republican members of the state house and senate have already signaled a desire to revisit laws on executive powers.
What affect it will have going forward on all of us in Kentucky is the bigger question, at this moment.
Beshear, in essence, is now completely unconstrained.
The Kentucky Supreme Court justices ruled because the governor declared a state of emergency to combat a public health crisis, his executive branch powers can, in general, be expanded without limit, especially since the state legislature meets for only a limited amount of time each year.
The governor, they declared, has the burden/duty of protecting the citizens of Kentucky, perhaps by any means possible.
That creates an interesting juxtaposition considering Beshear (as attorney general) spent most of the past four years challenging former governor Matt Bevin's authority.
We all remember the actions Beshear took in the opening months of the pandemic.
Retail stores all across the state were closed. Bowling alleys and movie theaters locked their doors. Schools were shut down and sports came to a halt.
The streets of our cities and towns were left freakishly empty as people hunkered down in their homes, fearful of catching COVID-19.
Small businesses failed. Thousands were laid off and had to file for unemployment.
The state's economy faltered.
As the pandemic stretched into the summer, public resistance to Beshear's actions continued to build, reaching a point where the governor had to reluctantly roll back his own orders.
Ironically, this change of course happened at a time when COVID-19 was becoming an even bigger issue across the commonwealth.
The problem is even worse now.
More than 90 of Kentucky's 120 counties have been filled in with the shade of shame (red) in the governor's color-coded alert system.
And new daily highs for COVID-19 cases seem to be reported almost every day.
So, what happens now?
The Kentucky Supreme Court has given Beshear carte blanche to once again make decisions which will have a big impact on the daily lives of people of this state, without any oversight from anyone.
The governor has given no indication he is ready to put more restrictions in place, at this point, or move toward another lockdown.
Instead, Beshear has preferred to use the platform of his afternoon television press conferences to point the finger at the people, essentially blaming them for the rapid spread of the virus.
The ruling by the Kentucky Supreme Court could embolden Beshear.
Or maybe not.
The governor may simply wait around until Joe Biden is inaugurated in January and follow the marching orders put in place by the new administration and the Democrat Party.
It will be interesting to see what happens.
Beshear now has complete authority to address this crisis without threat of repercussion.
It's up to him -- and only him.