With COVID Restrictions Challenged, Indiana Governor Asks State Supreme Court to Strike Down Law Empowering Legislature

With COVID Restrictions Challenged, Indiana Governor Asks State Supreme Court to Strike Down Law Empowering Legislature

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is asking the Indiana Supreme Court to review a lower court ruling that upheld limits on the governor’s emergency powers.

The appeal comes as President Joe Biden, the U.S. Congress, governors, state legislatures, mayors, and local lawmakers across the United States battle over their proper respective roles in dealing with the CCP virus that causes the disease COVID-19.

State governors across the country have come under particularly heavy political fire for, in the views of their critics, authoritarianism by seizing extraordinary emergency powers, particularly related to business- and lifestyle-related pandemic regulations, and failing to be accountable. In the nearby states of Wisconsin and Michigan, Democratic governors have been accused of overreach and some of their emergency powers have been taken away.

Indiana’s Republican governor is suing his fellow Republicans, State Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray and State House Speaker Todd Huston, over a statute known as HEA 1123, which Holcomb argues violates the Indiana Constitution’s separation-of-powers provisions.

Conservative lawmakers spearheaded the legislation that establishes a new process for the General Assembly to order an emergency legislative session to consider legislative action aimed at countering a governor’s declaration of a statewide emergency. The thinking was that this would curb the governor’s power to unilaterally decree long-term emergency restrictions such as lockdowns and mandatory wearing of face masks.

“Our forefathers never anticipated the unilateral actions of one person to spend billions of tax dollars,” State Sen. Susan Glick, a Republican, told reporters in March.

Holcomb claims in court documents that the General Assembly “improperly usurped” his authority as governor. The statute, passed in April, gives the General Assembly’s bipartisan Legislative Council the power to call an emergency session of the General Assembly.

Indiana is one of 15 states that restrict the ability of a legislature to initiate a special session, giving such authority exclusively to the governor, Holcomb states.

Holcomb argues the state constitution vests that authority in his office and that if lawmakers wanted to obtain the right to call an emergency session they needed to amend the constitution.

“The Court need look no further than Kentucky to see what our General Assembly could have done,” the governor states in a court filing. “Kentucky’s Constitution, like Indiana’s, expressly vests the authority [to] call a special session only in its governor.” Lawmakers there approved an amendment to that state’s constitution to give the legislature the power to call such a session. The amendment has yet to be voted on by Kentucky voters.

But on Oct. 7, Marion Superior Judge Patrick Dietrick issued an order declaring that HEA 1123 was constitutional.

“The Indiana Supreme Court has long recognized that the power to schedule legislative sessions is inherently legislative,” the judge wrote.

Holcomb said Dietrick’s ruling was wrong.

“This lawsuit is about making sure that state government operates the way our constitution outlines,” Holcomb said in a statement. “Our State, and its people, deserve clarity and finality on this important issue, which is why I am filing an appeal today.”

A spokesperson for Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, a Republican who is defending the interests of the General Assembly in the lawsuit, said the governor is mistaken.

“All along the Governor has said he just wanted his question answered,” the spokesperson said in a statement to The Epoch Times.

“He got his answer. Turns out he didn’t like the answer. So, now the taxpayers have to continue to be on the hook for his lawsuit. Just as concerning is his new legal theory asking the court to make our legislators do what Kentucky does. Since when do Hoosiers follow what Kentucky does?”

Holcomb argues in court documents that the dispute needs to be resolved urgently.

“If, as Governor Holcomb firmly believes, the General Assembly has impermissibly usurped his constitutional authority, then each day that goes by without that constitutional violation being remedied is an affront to the Indiana Constitution. This case involves a grave constitutional issue that should be resolved as soon as practicable.”

Holcomb signed Executive Order 20-02 on March 6, 2020, declaring a public health emergency in the state as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The governor has extended the official state of emergency repeatedly, most recently on Sept. 30 of this year when he signed Executive Order 21-27, extending it through Oct. 31.

Matthew Vadum

Matthew Vadum

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Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative journalist and a recognized expert in left-wing activism.

Continue reading at The Epoch Times, With COVID Restrictions Challenged, Indiana Governor Asks State Supreme Court to Strike Down Law Empowering Legislature

Author: Conservative News Daily
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