Holcomb filed a private lawsuit against the state’s General Assembly passing a law restricting its emergency powers.
A Marion County judge will allow Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb to bring a lawsuit against the state general assembly that passed bill earlier this year that largely restricts the governor’s emergency powers.
Earlier this year, Holcomb – a Republican – broke with members of his own party and used his gubernatorial privilege to issue statewide mask mandates and business restrictions, all of which aimed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
However, many Conservative members of the State Assembly felt that Holcomb’s actions, unpopular with many rural Republicans, exceeded the limits of his authority. While Holcomb vetoed the first law to end his emergency powers, the General Assembly reformed and overruled the governor in April.
In response, Governor Holcomb decided to file a privately funded lawsuit to challenge the new rule of the General Assembly.
But, according to The Indianapolis Star, state prosecutors protested Governor Halcomb’s lawsuit, which was filed with an outside attorney.
A woman wears an N95 style mask. Image via Pexels. Public domain.
In the court files, the attorney general’s office said that only they can approve the governor’s decision to fight a public lawsuit with a private attorney.
In a ruling on Saturday, however, Judge Patrick Dietrick found that Halcomb, as head of government, has the right to hire private lawyers and challenge the bill in court.
“Given Governor Holcomb’s duty to protect the Indiana Constitution and his inherent powers … Governor Holcomb is both authorized and required to take steps necessary to protect the Indiana Constitution,” wrote Dietrick.
“Because his veto has been suspended, this lawsuit is the only remedy the governor has at his disposal,” said Dietrick.
A spokesman for Halcomb’s office said the ruling was an important victory for the governor.
“The judge’s verdict in favor of the governor means that the case will continue,” the spokesman said. “The result is important to Governor Halcomb and […] future governors who work in times of need. “
But Attorney General Todd Rokita says he plans to appeal the order.
“The attorney general’s office has fought for the freedoms of the Indiana people for decades, with the same precedents that this court has now turned on its head,” Ritika said in a prepared statement Tuesday.
“The constitution does not belong to the governor, legislature or attorney general, it belongs to the people of Indiana,” added Rokita. “In this case, the court order threatens to upset the balance of power and undermine the individual freedoms of the citizens of this state.”
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