Monday, a Northern California judge tentatively ruled in favor of state Assemblymembers James Gallagher and Kevin Kiley regarding their lawsuit against Governor Gavin Newsom. The two Republicans are claiming the Democratic governor has abused his power during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have been arguing that the California Emergency Services Act does not provide for one-man rule.
Sutter County Superior Court Judge Sarah Heckman ruled as unconstitutional Governor Newsom's statewide vote-by-mail executive order. The directive required that all registered voters in California receive mail-in ballots to avoid having large numbers of people gathered at polling places. It also mandated one voting place per 10,000 residents be open from October 31st to November 2nd for at least 8 hours.
In addition, the judge's tentative ruling places an injunction on any unilateral attempts by the Governor to make or change state law in the immediate future.
Assemblyman Gallagher represents the 3rd Assembly District, which encompasses all of Glenn, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba counties as well as portions of Butte and Colusa counties.
"This is a victory for separation of powers. The Governor has continued to create and change state law without public input and without the deliberative process provided by the Legislature," said Kiley. "The judicial branch again gave him the check that was needed and that the Constitution requires."
Assemblyman Kiley represents the 6th Assembly District, which includes the Sacramento, Placer, and El Dorado County communities of Cameron Park, El Dorado Hills, Fair Oaks, Folsom, Granite Bay, Lincoln, Loomis, Orangevale, Penryn, Rocklin, Roseville, and Sheridan.
"Nobody disputes that there are actions that should be taken to keep people safe during an emergency," add Kiley. "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."
Other California lawmakers have also reacted to the ruling.
Congressman Doug LaMalfa applauded the decision.
"Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Newsom has acted more like a monarch than one who seeks the consent of the governed in our Republic," wrote LaMalfa, a Republican from Richvale. "By making unilateral and hasty policy changes that benefit him and his party without input from the Legislature, he has been extremely harmful to rural California, its small businesses, and morale in general."
The court's decision does not impact the 2020 election protocols.
For now, there is no indication from the Newsom administration on whether there will be an attempt to appeal the decision.