California Judge Says Governor’s Mail Ballot Order Violated Constitution

November 15, 2020 Updated: November 16, 2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom exceeded his authority and violated the state constitution with an executive order that let all residents vote by mail if they wanted to, a California judge ruled.

Sutter County Superior Court Judge Sarah Heckman ruled Nov. 13 that the order, N-67-20, “improperly amended existing statutory law, exceeding the governor’s authority and violating the separation of powers.”

Newsom’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

The order had stated, citing the COVID-19 pandemic, that “all Californians who are registered to vote in” the Nov. 3 election “must be empowered to vote by mail, as an alternative to in-person voting.”

Newsom, a Democrat, argued that California’s government code gave him the power to issue orders like the one concerning mail ballots, but the judge wasn’t convinced.

The legislative branch makes laws, Heckman said in the nine-page ruling, while the governor and the executive branch sees that laws are faithfully executed.

“The Governor may not exercise legislative powers unless permitted by the Constitution. Article V, Section 1 of the California Constitution does not grant the Governor the power to exercise those functions which have been given to the Legislature, absent the Legislature’s delegation of a portion of its legislative authority to such executive officials or entities through statutory enactments,” the judge ruled.

The ruling voided Newsom’s June order. It also clearly stated that the governor doesn’t have the power to amend laws or make new laws, about a week after the judge said California’s governor can’t do so but can issue orders.

Vote by Mail Drop Box
A ballot is dropped off at an official ballot drop box in Monterey Park, Calif., on Oct. 5, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

“Gavin Newsom, in his official capacity as Governor of the State of California is enjoined and prohibited from exercising any power under the California Emergency Services Act (Government Code 8550 et seq.) which amends, alters, or changes existing statutory law or makes new statutory law or legislative policy,” Heckman said.

The judge was elected in 2012. Her term runs through 2021.

The case is James Gallagher and Kevin Kiley v. Gavin Newsom. Kiley and Gallagher are Republican assemblymen.

“Today, the Court confirmed that Gavin Newsom does not rule California and that we are still a nation of laws. California has not been well-served by one-man rule. A return to representative government will be best for public health and the economy,” they said in a joint statement regarding the ruling.

“The Governor must accept this ruling as a fundamental principle of our democracy and govern himself accordingly.”

The state legislature passed a bill in June giving all voters the chance to vote by mail, like Newsom’s order did.

The new ruling does not affect the 2020 election.

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