Gov. John Bel Edwards filed a lawsuit in state court today defending his COVID-19 public health emergency proclamation, which has been challenged by a group of members of the House of Representatives just as new COVID-19 cases reach a third spike in other areas of the country. Already, 5,648 Louisianans have died from COVID since March and at least 180,000 people in the state have been infected. On Friday, the same day that Legislators signed their petition declaring that the public health emergency was over, the United States saw the highest number of daily new cases reported across the country: 83,757.
The Governor’s lawsuit asks the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge to declare a section of the law used by some members of the Louisiana House of Representatives to attempt to overrule his public health emergency order by petition unconstitutional. It also says the petition was improperly filed because the Legislature did not consult the public health authority, the Louisiana Department of Health.
“In addition to the fact that getting rid of the mitigation measures that have proven to slow the spread of COVID and save lives is reckless and dangerous, the law being used is blatantly unconstitutional. Louisiana’s Constitution doesn’t allow only one chamber of the Legislature to overturn a public health emergency, and, even if it did, the petitioners did not properly consult the public health experts from the Louisiana Department of Health,” Gov. Edwards said. “Multiple people – including the author of the Legislature’s petition and many of its signers – have acknowledged the law’s unconstitutionality in both public and private conversations. It’s frankly sad and counterproductive to have to take this legal action as we are also responding not only to a pandemic but also recovering from two serious hurricanes and preparing for the possibility of another. I am incredibly disappointed that at a time when Louisianans need to be coming together to protect each other from this virus, some legislators and the Attorney General are instead playing politics with people’s lives. Louisiana remains in Phase 3, our successful mitigation measures remain in place, and I will continue to work with public health officials and experts to make decisions based on sound science and data.”
Click here for the Governor’s motion filed today at the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge.