With Gov. Julian Carroll away on a South Carolina vacation, Lt. Gov. Thelma Stovall yesterday vetoed a resolution to rescind Kentucky's ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Under the state constitution, the lieutenant governor assumes the full powers of the governorship when the governor is out of the state.
However, anti-ERA leaders immediately predicted that the veto's legality will be challenged in court.
Caroll almost certainly knew of Stovall's plans because news stories about the expected veto appeared here before he left.
However, deputy press secretary William Bradford said the governor's vacation, which came at the end of a hectic legislative session, involved "no deal as far as him leaving to allow her to do it."
Carroll's position, according to Bradford, is that "a change in the federal Constitution is strictly a legislative matter and the governor has no authority to approve or disapprove it."
As a result, Carroll, will make no effort to challenge the veto when he gets back, Bradford said.
The resolution to rescind ERA ratification was the object of a bitter fight in the Kentucky Senate, which fight in the Kentucky Senate, which split 20 to 18 on several key votes. The resolution passed by more than 2 to 1 in the House.
Carroll maintained public neutrality during the fight, although there were indications that he tried to block the rescission resolution.
One anti-ERA leader charged last month that Carroll was strongly opposing rescission "as a personal favor to Rosalynn Carter." The governor's office denied it.
Stovall, an outspoken backer of the ERA, said the rescission resolution is not valid because the legislature may act only once on an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The ERA was ratifid in a special legislative session in 1972 with Carroll, then the lieutenant governor breaking a tie vote in favor of ratification on a preliminary motion in the Senate.