Trial date set for legislators’ lawsuit against Newsom over executive order

By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square Aug 19, 2020

(The Center Square) – A trial date has been set for Oct. 21 in which two Republican Assemblymen will represent their case against Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration over an executive order the governor issued changing election laws.

The case will be heard by the Superior Court of California in Yuba City.

Assemblymen Kevin Kiley, R-Rockland, and Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, sued Newsom earlier this year over an executive order he issued relating to the state’s election process. Executive Order N-67-20 seeks to implement voting by mail for registered California voters as an alternative to in-person voting.

The order states that all Californians who are registered (and otherwise eligible) to vote in the Nov. 3 General Election shall receive vote-by-mail ballots.

The order states that “all county elections officials are required to use the Secretary of State’s vote-by-mail ballot tracking system, created pursuant to Elections Code section 3019.7, and to use Intelligent Mail Barcodes on all vote-by-mail ballot envelopes.”

Among other provisions, it stipulates that at least one vote-by-mail ballot drop-off location per 15,000 registered voters be made available no later than Oct. 6 and continue during regular business hours every day through Nov. 3, and that no less than two vote-by-mail ballot drop-off locations be made available regardless of the number of registered voters.

The order also changed a variety of state election laws, including the elimination of public meetings with people who have disabilities and limited English proficiency.

State Superior Court Judge Perry Parker issued a temporary restraining order against the governor June 12, suspending the order. He said in his two-page brief that the order was an impermissible use of legislative powers in violation of the California Constitution and the laws of the State of California.”

The order bars Newsom from “exercising any further legislative powers in violation of the California Constitution and applicable statute, specifically from unilaterally amending, altering, or changing existing statutory law or making new statutory law.”

The governor’s office appealed, arguing, “Although the superior court mischaracterizes the Executive Order as an infringement on the Legislature’s authority, key Members of the Legislature … asked the Governor to act by Executive Order to prepare for the November election.

On June 17, Judge Ray Vance stayed Parker’s order.

Gallagher said the case “is about the rule of law and the Constitution, and respect for that Constitution and the separation of powers that it establishes. That has not happened when this governor has just changed law by edict. Let’s just call it what it is – that’s tyranny.”

The legislators said in a joint statement, “The governor has continued to brazenly legislate by fiat without public input and without the deliberative process provided by the Legislature. Today the judicial branch finally gave him the check that was needed and that the Constitution requires.”

Scheduling the hearing before the November election was important, Kiley says. To date, no mail-in ballots have been sent out.

“We’ll be representing ourselves in the technical legal sense – but really, we’re representing the people of our state against a runaway Governor who’s left 40 million Californians without a voice in their own government,” Kiley says.

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