Judge rules to limit California governor powers amid pandemic

The Hill:

A judge ruled on Monday to limit California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) executive powers during a pandemic.

Sutter County Superior Court Judge Sarah Heckman issued a preliminary order for Newsom to stop making executive orders that could contradict state laws after determining one of his orders was “an unconstitutional exercise of legislative power.”

Her order prevents Newsom “from exercising any power under the California Emergency Services Act which amends, alters, or changes existing statutory law or makes new statutory law or legislative policy.”

The judge determined that the California Emergency Services Act itself was constitutional but noted it “does not permit the Governor to amend statutes or make new statutes.”

“The Governor does not have the power or authority to assume the Legislature’s role of creating legislative policy and enactments,” the order says.

Heckman’s order will become final in 10 days if Newsom’s team does not challenge it. 

She is the second judge in the county to conclude Newsom was overstepping his authority, but the ruling is contradictory to other state and federal decisions on the governor’s emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic, The Associated Press noted. 

A spokesman for Newsom told The Hill that the administration does not agree with the ruling’s limitations and is “evaluating next steps.”

“The tentative ruling makes clear that the Governor’s statutory emergency authority is broad, and constitutional, and that the Governor has the authority, necessary in emergencies, to suspend statutes and issue orders to protect Californians,” the spokesman said.

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