A judge tentatively ruled on Nov. 2 that California Gov. Gavin Newsom overstepped his authority when he issued an executive order in June requiring all counties in the state to send mail-in ballots to every registered voter for the Nov. 3 election.
Sutter County Superior Court Judge Sarah Heckman said that the move was “an unconstitutional exercise of legislative power,” and also blocked Newsom “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.”
The governor’s June executive order violated the California Constitution, Heckman ruled, because it created new law. Only the legislature has the power to create laws under California’s constitutional separation of powers.
Heckman’s ruling (pdf) found that the California Emergency Services Act gives Newsom authority “to suspend certain statutes, not to amend any statutes or create new ones.”
The Nov. 3 election will be unaffected by the ruling because the California Legislature subsequently voted to enact the same mail-in ballot policy enacted by the governor with his executive order, alongside other safeguards.
Heckman acted in a lawsuit brought by Republican Assemblymen James Gallagher of Yuba City and Kevin Kiley of Rocklin who both said Newsom, a Democrat, was single-handedly overriding state laws in the name of what he argued was keeping Californians safe in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus pandemic.
“This is a victory for separation of powers,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement.
Newsom “has continued to create and change state law without public input and without the deliberative process provided by the legislature.”
“Nobody disputes that there are actions that should be taken to keep people safe during an emergency,” they added.
“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.”
The judge’s decision will become final in 10 days unless Newsom’s attorneys can raise new challenges.
Newsom’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times. A spokesman told The Associated Press that the governor’s administration is evaluating its next steps and strongly disagrees with the order’s specific limitations.
The governor has issued more than 50 executive orders related to the CCP virus since he declared a state of emergency in March.
Lawmakers of both political parties have criticized Newsom for not properly consulting with them before issuing sweeping orders and budget decisions.