Home News Indiana court strikes emergency law contested by governor

Indiana court strikes emergency law contested by governor

Indiana court strikes emergency law contested by governor

Indianapolis ( Associated Press) — The Indiana Supreme Court on Friday struck down a law that gave state legislators the power to intervene during public health emergencies, Republicans agree with Gov. Eric Holcomb’s arguments that the move violated the state’s constitution.

Court’s unanimous decision settles legal battle which began more than a year ago when Holcomb sued On a law that was a response to his efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new law gave legislative leaders the right to convene the General Assembly in an “emergency session” if the governor declares a statewide emergency. The GOP-dominated legislature approved it over Holcomb’s veto.

Holcombe’s lawyers argued that the state’s constitution only allows the governor to convene the legislature to consider new laws outside of its annual sessions that begin in early January and adjourn until the end of April.

Chief Justice Loretta Rush agreed, writing for the five-judge court that Holcombe’s lawyers “satisfied the high burden necessary to establish that the law is unconstitutional.”

“Under our Constitution, the General Assembly cannot only do what the challenged law allows in the absence of a constitutional amendment,” Rush said.

Holcombe said in a statement that the fight for the law raised “important procedural, statutory and constitutional questions that only courts can answer.”

“Today, the Indiana Supreme Court has provided clarity and finality on these important issues,” he said.

The High Court’s decision came after a Marion County judge sided with the legislature In October.

The MLA leaders never tried to call an emergency session under the law. Holcomb first issued a public health emergency in response to the pandemic on March 6, 2020, and ended it this March. He had issued 23 monthly extensions, which many conservatives wished, even though no mask mandates or commercial restrictions expire in spring 2021.

Under the law, it would be up to the Legislative Council – made up of eight senators and eight House members – to convene an “emergency session” if it determines that the governor had declared a state of emergency with “statewide effect” and “It is essential for the General Assembly to address the state of emergency with legislative action.”

GOP legislative leaders maintained that the measure was not “anti-governor” and praised Holcombe’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which health officials say has killed more than 23,000 people in the state.

Republican House Speaker Todd Huston said in a statement that he respected the court’s decision. “We will consider all options going forward,” he said.

“We will work collaboratively to find a way to serve the best interests of the state of Indiana,” Republican Senate Speaker Pro Tame Roderick Bray said in a statement.

Although Friday’s decision found the “emergency session” law to be unconstitutional, Rush wrote that the General Assembly has a “constitutional authority to schedule additional sessions”.

“While our Constitution only authorizes the Governor to convene a special session, the General Assembly may schedule additional sessions—but only by fixing their length and frequency in a law passed during a legislative session and presented to the Governor,” She wrote.

All court judges were appointed by Republican governors. Only Justice Christopher Goff was appointed by Holcomb in 2017.

Holcomb’s trial left Indiana’s Republican hierarchy divided, Attorney General Todd Rokita sided with the legislators. Rokita’s office unsuccessfully argued that the attorney general alone had the legal authority to represent the state in court.

Rokita said in a statement that the court’s decision “overturned the intent of those who are directly elected by the people.”

But the Indiana Democratic Party called the ruling a rebuttal to Republican lawmakers, saying their “extremism and unnecessary correctness testing” ruined Indiana residents’ tax dollars.