NEW ORLEANS, La. (AP) — A Louisiana judge has rejected an effort by Republican state House members to force an end to Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards' coronavirus restrictions.

State District Judge William Morvant ruled Thursday afternoon. Sixty-five Republican state House members recently invoked a state law provision allowing a majority in either the House or the Senate to force an end to a governor's declared public health emergency. Edwards argues the provision violates the state constitution's requirement that a law be approved by both legislative bodies.

In a press release sent to KPEL News, Gov. Edwards said:

Today is a victory for public health in the state of Louisiana and for all of those people, from our health care heroes, including our doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to our scientists and researchers, who are fighting every day to slow the spread of COVID and save lives here. The petition signed by some members of one chamber of Louisiana’s Legislature could not terminate the emergency order because the petition was based on a law the violated the Louisiana Constitution.  Judge Morvant ruled that the House of Representatives cannot act by itself on behalf of the full Legislature. I have long said the law some members of the House were attempting to use is unconstitutional and I am pleased the judge agreed.

 

What today’s hearing means for the people and businesses of Louisiana is that our state remains in Phase 3, including with a statewide mask mandate in effect, based on my most recent proclamation. This represents our best chance at slowing the spread of COVID in Louisiana and has and will save lives. I will continue to work with public health experts, scientists and doctors on strategies and mitigation measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana.

 

Right now, we are seeing frightening surges in COVID cases, test positivity, hospitalizations and deaths around the country, including in our neighboring states. Louisianans must not let down their guard, and must continue practicing social distance, wearing masks, washing their hands and limiting their contact when outside of their households. We will get through this together, and I am deeply thankful for the hard work of all Louisianans, who have already bent the curve twice this year.”

 

Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry was among those defending the legality of the petition at Thursday's hearing. He released this statement:

Our government is built on a system of checks and balances. The Legislature makes laws; the Governor enforces them. Today, the Court effectively ruled the Governor may make law without any legislative oversight - this turns Louisiana into a dictatorship under King Edwards.

It is problematic when a judge rewrites the law from the bench. That seems to be occurring more and more and adds to the current turmoil we find our country in. This case and its outcome affects all Louisiana citizens, their livelihoods, and their safety.

We will appeal Judge Morvant's rulings and pray the Supreme Court will uphold the checks and balances upon which our government was founded and has been ruled.

(Story written By KEVIN McGILL/AP)