As Election Day 2020 dawns, California citizens are worried about continued restrictions and the return of more stringent lockdowns.

However, there may be some hope for Californians as a Northern California judge ordered Gov. Gavin Newsom to stop issuing directives related to the coronavirus that might interfere with state law.

Sutter County Superior Court Judge Sarah Heckman tentatively ruled that one of the dozens of executive orders Newsom has issued overstepped his authority and was “an unconstitutional exercise of legislative power.”

She more broadly barred him “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.”

It’s the second time a judge in the county has reached the same conclusion. An appeals court quickly stayed the earlier order in June.

Heckman’s decision will become final in 10 days unless Newsom’s attorneys can raise new challenges. Newsom did not immediately comment or say if he will appeal.

The case centers on a single Newsom executive order in June requiring election officials to establish hundreds of locations statewide where voters can cast ballots. Lawmakers subsequently approved the same requirement, and the judge’s decision will have no effect on Tuesday’s election.

She acted in a lawsuit brought by Republican Assemblymen James Gallagher and Kevin Kiley, who said Newsom, a Democrat, was single-handedly overriding state laws in the name of keeping Californians safe.

The Republican lawmakers were pleased by the decision.

…“Nobody disputes that there are actions that should be taken to keep people safe during an emergency,” the lawmakers said. “But that doesn’t mean that we put our Constitution and free society on hold by centralizing all power in the hands of one man.”

Kiley compiled a 28-page list of Newsom’s orders that alter existing state laws, from halting evictions to how public meetings are conducted.

The governor also extended deadlines for businesses to renew licenses, file reports, or pay taxes; delayed consumers’ late fees for paying taxes or renewing drivers licenses; suspended school districts’ deadlines and instructional requirements; suspended medical privacy rules; and allowed grocery stores to hand out free single-use bags.

One order allowed couples to be married by video or teleconference, with marriage licenses and certificates digitally signed and sent by email.

It will be interesting to see the final vote tallies from California, as people are tired of the continued restrictions and Newsom’s continued politicizing of the pandemic response.

 

 
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