State appeals court upholds Gov. Newsom's emergency powers during pandemic

State appeals court upholds Gov. Newsom's emergency powers during pandemic

5/5/2021 11:55:00 PM

State appeals court upholds Gov. Newsom's emergency powers during pandemic

Gov. Gavin Newsom wins his appeal of a judge's ruling last year that he didn't have the right to change state laws during the COVID-19 pandemic.

PrintA state appeals court decided unanimously Wednesday that Gov. Gavin Newsom has the legal right to modify or make new state laws during the COVID-19 pandemic.The ruling was a setback for two GOP lawmakers who challenged the scope of the governor’s public health authority. The legislators said they would ask the California Supreme Court to overturn the decision, handed down by a three-judge panel of the Sacramento-based 3rd District Court of Appeal.

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The appeals courtgrants the governor the power to change state law during a crisis and that grant of authority was constitutional.The ruling stemmed from a Sutter County Superior Court judge’sissue a permanent injunction blocking Newsom from issuing executive orders that make new law. Newsom has issued about 50 executive orders since declaring a state of emergency for the pandemic in March 2020.

AdvertisementSuperior Court Judge Sarah Heckman, who was first elected to the bench in 2012, said the Emergency Services Act gave governors the power to suspend laws but not to make new laws or amend existing ones.The Court of Appealtemporarily blocked Heckman’s injunction

in November pending an appeal.Deciding that appeal on Wednesday, the 3rd District court interpreted the 1970 act differently. It noted that the law gave governors “police power” during an emergency ,and that term meant the authority to enact laws.“The superior court erred in interpreting the Emergency Services Act to prohibit the Governor from issuing quasi-legislative orders in an emergency,” wrote Presiding Justice Vance W. Raye, appointed to the court by former Gov. George Deukmejian, a Republican.

“We conclude the issuance of such orders did not constitute an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power.”The California Constitution gives only the Legislature the power to create laws. But the appeals court said the Emergency Services Act was constitutional because it provided only temporary powers and contained “an important safeguard.”

That safeguard was a requirement that a governor proclaim an end to the emergency at the earliest possible date, the court said. Once the governor or the Legislature decide an emergency is over, the executive orders issued by the governor are nullified.

Raye distinguished the California act from a Michigan law granting the governor emergency powers during a crisis. The Michigan Supreme Court overturned the law last year.Advertisement Read more: L.A. Times Health »

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