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Last week I posted a document the likes of which has never been seen in our country: a list of 400 laws Gavin Newsom has changed by fiat.
There’s only one thing more disturbing than this list – and that’s the way Newsom has tried to defend it. In our court case against him, he’s advanced 10 startling claims to prop up his one-man rule.
Taken together, they amount to a harrowing aggrandizement of his own powers at the expense of the Legislature, courts, communities, and the people of California.
1. The Constitution is no obstacle
In his first brief, Gov. Newsom cited Gov. Code § 8627 to claim the State of Emergency lets him exercise “the full police power of the state.”
But he left out the end of the sentence, which says these powers are confined by “the Constitution and laws of the State of California.”
2. The courts have no role
In his Reply Brief, Gov. Newsom claimed he’s required to provide “no evidence at all” that his actions are constitutional, due to the “readily apparent” threat of the pandemic.
This is an unprecedented attempt to sideline not only the Legislature but also the courts, telling them to simply assume that any and all actions he undertakes are lawful.
3. Everything is essential to the pandemic
In his Writ Petition, Gov. Newsom asserted, without evidence, that his Order overhauling an election six months away was “essential” to “protecting Californians from further harm by COVID-19.”
By claiming a public health justification for actions that plainly lack one, the Governor has seized control of not just the Health Code, but 16 other codes as well, single-handedly remaking life in California.
4. The legislative process is optional
In his Reply Brief, Gov. Newsom claimed his Executive Order was not actually unilateral, because two “key members of the Legislature” said nice things about it.
This is a novel legal theory: An individual legislator can make law via direct communication with him – or simply by cheering on his actions – and skip any legislative process involving actual votes.
5. Judges who rule against him are prejudiced
In a fit of spite, Gov. Newsom removed the Judge who issued the Restraining Order against him, claiming “prejudice against his interest.” He provided no evidence for this extraordinary accusation.
The Governor clearly wanted to send a message: any Judge who would limit his power will be smeared and stopped from challenging his authority again.
6. He can usurp all powers of the Legislature
In his Answer to our Complaint, Gov. Newsom’s legal defense was that his executive order “will become moot” when the Legislature passes a bill on the same topic.
This not only assumes the legislative process is preordained, but empowers him to do anything he wants if the Legislature could in theory pass legislation on the same topic. In one fell swoop, Gov. Newsom claimed all powers of the Legislature for himself.
7. He gets even more power when the Legislature recesses
In his Reply to the Palma Notice, Gov. Newsom told the Court to remove any constraints on his authority “because the Assembly has delayed its return from recess,” saying “it is now even more important for this Court to act.”
This argument came the day after the Assembly announced a recess – showing how eager he is to grab at any pretext for greater power.
8. The Majority Party can do whatever it wants
In another filing, Gov. Newsom claimed his Executive Order was lawful because it came at the request of two legislators “of the majority party.”
By invoking political party, the Governor implied the majority can ignore the Constitution and make law however it pleases. That’s how it works in a banana republic, but not in our system of government.
9. Anyone who tries to limit his power must be smeared
In addition to our lawsuit, I authored ACR 196 to terminate the Governor’s emergency powers. Gov. Newsom then falsely accused me of trying to “prematurely declare an end to this ongoing crisis that has killed nearly 100,000 Americans.”
Smearing anyone who asks questions or stands in the way of absolute power is, of course, a classic authoritarian tactic.
10. The State of Emergency is a political “opportunity”
On April 1, Gov. Newsom told Bloomberg News he saw the coronavirus public health crisis as an “opportunity” to enact a political and ideological agenda.
Reporter: “Do you see the potential, as some others in the Party do, for a new progressive era, the opportunity for additional progressive steps because of this crisis?”
Newsom: “Yes, absolutely, we see this as an opportunity to reshape the way we do business and how we govern. There is opportunity for reimagining a progressive era as it pertains to capitalism.”
In his own words, Gavin Newsom is using the State of Emergency to pursue a political, ideological, and personal agenda. In the process, he’s turned our constitutional system of government on its head.
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