BATON ROUGE La. (KLFY) — Thursday a judge rejected a challenge to thwart Governor John Bel Edwards’ emergency COVID-19 orders, but it will not be the last time the mandates are disputed in court.
Both the governor and the House argue the actions of the other side are unconstitutional, but according the district court judge, it was the Republican lawmakers who crossed the line. Attorney General Jeff Landry disagrees.
“I’m not here to determine whether there’s an emergency or not. I’m here to make sure the governor follows the law,” Landry stated.
The mask mandate and other coronavirus-related restrictions in phase 3 will stay in place unless a higher court overturns 19th Judicial District Judge William Morvant’s decision.
Attorney General Jeff Landry argued a law passed by the House and Senate in 1993 and 2003 allows one of the two elected bodies to stop the governor from going beyond his authority under the Health Act, but the democrat governor and the judge agree it is unconstitutional for one chamber cannot act by itself on behalf of the full Legislature.
“I don’t know where under his theory that one has can’t void out the governor’s declaration because both houses agreed to give one house that,” Landry claims. “It seems to be so basic in a civics course. It’s absurd.”
Governor Edwards and his supporters think differently stating, ““Today is a victory for public health in the state of Louisiana and for all of those people, from our health care heroes, including our doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to our scientists and researchers, who are fighting every day to slow the spread of COVID and save lives here.”
The State Senate did not join in the house petition, and District 23 State Senator Gerald Boudreaux believes these efforts to with the governor’s emergency mandates are not the best way to protect Louisiana in a pandemic.
“It’s time for people to quit pretending that they can do what they want in this country. We have laws, and we have to abide by them, and that’s for everyone in this country,” Boudreaux said.
Landry fears the ruling threatens checks and balances, stating the Governor enforces the laws, but the Legislature makes them.
Other states have challenged emergency powers during the pandemic and succeeded. In Michigan, the supreme court sided with the legislature and ended the governor’s COVID-19 executive orders, saying the two branches of government can “work together in a cooperative spirit and constitutional manner to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Louisiana Attorney General said, “This is actually something that I think we are going to continue to see play out across the country when we think about how long does a crisis start, how long is an emergency, and when do we get back to the normal process of lawmaking?”