Siding with Republicans, a state judge ordered California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) to refrain from issuing any further emergency orders that might infringe upon the purview of the legislature, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Gov. Newsom is one of several Democratic state leaders who has exploited the coronavirus pandemic to impose restrictive measures via executive orders without any input from the legislature.
Temporary restraining order issued
Sutter County Superior Court Judge Perry Parker issued the order on Friday in response to a lawsuit filed by two Republican members of the state legislature, Assemblymen James Gallagher and Kevin Kiley. The Republicans asserted that the governor overstepped his authority with a number of executive orders that pertained to matters within the legislature’s jurisdiction.
The judge seemed to agree, though he only suspended one of the governor’s orders dealing with the upcoming general election in November while essentially telling the governor to hold off on issuing any further orders on things that would be in the realm of the legislature.
The order in question, Newsom’s E.O. N-67-20, bolstered a prior order that all registered voters should receive a mail-in ballot while also instructing county, local, and state election officials to make COVID-19-related preparations for in-person voting in certain locations around the state.
The judge deemed it to be an “impermissible use of legislative powers in violation of the California Constitution and the laws of the State of California,” and issued a temporary restraining order suspending the E.O.
Blocked from issuing further orders
Judge Parker also set a court date of June 26 so Newsom could argue why he shouldn’t be barred “from further exercising any legislative powers in violation of the California Constitution and applicable statute, specifically from unilaterally amending, altering, or changing existing statutory law or making new statutory law.”
While there may be some debate about just how broad the judge’s order was and whether it prohibits Newsom from issuing any further orders or simply limits him from issues best handled by the legislature, it appears that the governor’s office has accepted the decision for the time being.
“We are disappointed in this initial ruling and look forward to the opportunity to brief the Court on the issues,” Newsom spokesman Jesse Melgar said in a statement.
The two Republican assemblymen, of course, were pleased with Judge Parker’s order. They said in a joint statement, “This is a victory for separation of powers. The governor has continued to brazenly legislate by fiat without public input and without the deliberative process provided by the Legislature. Today the judicial branch finally gave him the check that was needed and that the Constitution requires.”
Separation of powers
In a separate statement to Politico, Assemblyman Gallagher, who serves as the vice-chair of the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee, said of the lawsuit, “The underlying principle behind what we did is separation of powers,” adding, “A lot of things have gotten out of whack with this [pandemic] emergency.”
We couldn’t agree more, and cheer this ruling. Hopefully, this case will serve as an example to help rein in overly controlling Democrat governors in other states as well.