A Superior Court judge believes it’s time for the legislature to step up and do its job if it wants to see the governor’s executive orders extended.
In a 36-page decision, Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher upheld the state’s mask mandate for school children and questioned the continuance of Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive powers.
“I think the decision for me was a breath of fresh air. Finally, someone is talking about our constitution,” said House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora.
In his ruling, Judge Moukawsher wrote: “This court believes the governor likely cannot continue to carry out his emergency orders without some form of ratification and control from the General Assembly."
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Norm Pattis, the attorney for the plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit against the state, said they are delighted by most of Moukawsher’s decision.
“He understood the significance of what we argued: there is no public health exception to the rule of law,” Pattis said.
“Regardless of the pandemic and how you feel it’s been handled in the State of Connecticut, I think many of us have been concerned of the erosion, especially in the legislative branch of our power,” Candelora said.
House Speaker Matt Ritter said the judge’s decision created a sense of urgency among lawmakers and they’ve already begun to go through all 90 executive orders.
“The governor has been very clear that he does not anticipate when we get to April 20th that he would want to extend the emergency powers for the broad purposes he’s had to date,” Ritter said.
Lamont’s executive powers expire on April 20.
Lamont, speaking at an unrelated news conference, said the legislative leaders have been consulted since the beginning.
“If you don’t like how we’re prioritizing vaccines based on age, pass a bill,” Lamont said. “If you don’t like a lot of the other decisions we’ve had to make and again if you say I don’t think anybody should have to wear a mask they can pass a bill to that effect.”
But the legislature has yet to codify any of Lamont's executive orders since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Right now my EO’s are in place. If anyone wants to counter them, I’m willing to listen, and then on April 20 the legislature will step in and make some determinations,” Lamont said.