Despite claims to the contrary, Attorney General declines to defend HB 2
FRANKFORT (Feb. 10, 2017)—Gov. Matt Bevin yesterday filed a lengthy legal brief—the second from his administration—to vigorously defend the recently enacted House Bill 2, which requires physicians to offer an ultrasound to patients prior to performing an abortion, describe the developing child that is depicted, and allow the heartbeat to be heard.
Yesterday was the deadline for Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear to file a brief ahead of a Feb. 16 hearing before U.S. District Judge David Hale on a requested temporary restraining order, and he unsurprisingly failed to do so.
Despite claims that he has taken “the most aggressive action possible,” Beshear’s actions show otherwise. Three weeks ago, he simply filed a one-page brief asserting his office was “taking no position” on House Bill 2 and when invited by the Judge to file a supplemental brief by Feb. 9, he failed to file anything. Beshear has not lifted a finger to defend the constitutionality of HB 2.
He continues to cling to the nuance that he is defending the statute because his office has entered an appearance for himself and a state agency. However, he has made no effort to actually defend the statute. He is failing to defend Kentucky law and the unborn children and expecting mothers it was enacted to protect—the basic job of the attorney general of the commonwealth.
“I find it tragically ironic that while Attorney General Beshear boasts about protecting Kentucky’s families and children, he is shirking his duty when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us,” said Communications Director Amanda Stamper.
He recently asked to be removed as a defendant, saying nothing in the law says his office has the duty or authority to enforce it.
However, even the ACLU in a reply memorandum noted that Beshear’s argument is incorrect “because it ignores the broad power the attorney general wields under existing Kentucky law to enforce state statutes and to initiate actions in which the commonwealth has an interest.”
House Bill 2 was passed by the Kentucky General Assembly last month with 83 percent bipartisan support.