Victory for limited government: Ky Supreme Court overturns Bullitt Co. smoking ban, puts clamps on unelected health departments issuing bans on private property
We’re praising the Kentucky Supreme Court tonight for its 6-0 ruling smacking down the Bullitt County smoking ban and the arrogant, out-of-control and unelected — health department that tried to force it on private property owners, as well as these health nannies across Kentucky who’ve been attempting to usurp elected officials and ban the legal activity of smoking on private property.
In fact, the court recognized that this issue is not so much about smoking as it is about the regulatory state threatening our freedom. In its ruling, the court warned that “… an increase in the aggregate power of administrative agencies over the recent decades, if left unchecked, invites the ascendance of a fourth branch of government—the regulatory state. The trustees of our state and federal constitutions must bear this burden with pragmatic resolve so, that government may effectively function in the 21st century without abdicating sovereignty. The balancing of freedoms is the most delicate task of a democracy for which there is no judicial panacea. A free people vest that onerous duty to those whom they have entrusted through the elective process.”
And the Supreme Court justices aren’t the only ones who recognize such government overreach.
I praised the initial — and pointed — ruling by Bullitt Circuit Judge Rodney Burress in a Bluegrass Beacon column:
Speaking of taxpayers being compelled to fund courtroom mischief, before the recent ruling by Circuit Judge Rodney Burress, Bullitt County Health Department Director Swannie Jett bragged that every major Kentucky city that has instituted a smoking ban and faced litigation has won.
So Jett’s health department, which reportedly has spent around $100,000 to defend its oppressive smoking ban, concluded it has carte blanche to regulate smoking in Bullitt County, including creating – and using police powers to enforce – its own ban.
Accepting the department’s position that “it has the authority to regulate any matter relating to public health would allow (it) to adopt regulations that prohibit the consumption of candy because it is bad for a person’s teeth, to prohibit consumption of deep fried foods, and to limit the consumption of red meat,” Burress stated.
He also made it clear that only elected bodies, not unelected – and unaccountable – health boards, are allowed to create and enforce law. Smack! Burress said that unchecked, the health board’s regulation would also allow it “to regulate the time of night a person has to go to bed based upon the fact that lack of sleep influences a person’s health.”
Then he delivered this blow, protecting the individual liberty of every Kentuckian endangered by one of these health boards: “This court does not believe that type of ‘Big Brother’ conduct was anticipated by the Kentucky State Legislature in its grant of power and authority to health boards.”
We may not be able to stop “Big Brother” in Bullitt County from watching smokers light up. But at least for now, the judge has kept it from doing anything else.