Beshear intervening in WKU lawsuit


Attorney General Andy Beshear announced that his office would seek to intervene in the lawsuit between UK and The Kentucky Kernel, Wednesday, Sept. 7. 

Bailey Vandiver

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear filed a motion to intervene in Western Kentucky University’s lawsuit against the Kentucky Kernel and the College Heights Herald, according to a press release from the Office of the Attorney General.

Like UK and Kentucky State University, WKU denied to give requested documents to the Kernel. The College Heights Herald, the WKU student publication, also requested documents from its university.

After WKU denied the students the documents, the Office of the Attorney General requested the withheld documents for confidential review. WKU also refused this request.

“The anti-transparency stance by the leadership at Western Kentucky University is an attempt to turn Kentucky’s Open Records Act into a ‘trust me’ law,” Beshear said in the press release. He said he hopes WKU’s incoming president, Dr. Timothy C. Caboni, will remove WKU from this lawsuit.

WKU is suing the student publication because a university cannot sue the Attorney General. This follows the legal actions taken by UK and KSU.

“It’s what they have to do if they want their position to prevail, the way state law’s arranged,” UK journalism professor and Director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues Al Cross said.

Cross was editor of the College Heights Herald in 1974.

“That paper and the journalism program there have always been very strong, so it doesn’t surprise me that they wanted to follow the Kernel’s lead,” Cross said.

“The encouraging thing is that the attorney general is moving to intervene in these cases, which shows that he’s got a fairly strong opinion that newspapers are in the right,” Cross said.

However, this issue is bigger than journalism, Cross said. These cases concern the principles of transparency and accountability, something that Beshear has reiterated as well. Beshear said in the press release that without the review of documents, institutions can mispresent how safe their campuses really are by hiding sexual assault issues.

These cases are taking place in Warren Circuit Court for WKU and Franklin Circuit Court for KSU. The UK decision has already been made in favor of the university in the Fayette Circuit Court, but the Kernel is appealing the decision.