Are the Governor’s emergency powers unlimited?

   

It has now been several weeks since the Louisiana economy has been in a near complete shutdown by Governor John Bel Edwards Health Emergency proclamation. The various proclamations ordered and directed private, non-essential businesses to close, limiting groups of ten or more from gathering, and stay-at-home except for a necessary purpose.

You can imagine the devastating effect this has had on families and businesses. But, perhaps you don’t have to imagine it at all; perhaps you have felt the devastating effects personally. Maybe you question how is it that the Governor has authority to completely control your life and business.

That question has sparked a fire of interest. Research has been done to understand the statute the Governor is using to control the lives and properties of the people and it has revealed some important facts.

Governor Edwards is claiming authority by La R.S. 29:760

Pursuant to the Louisiana Health Emergency Powers Act, La. R.S. 29:760, et seq. , a statewide public health emergency is declared to continue to exist in the State of Louisiana as a result of the continued threat posed to Louisiana citizens by COVID-19.

In researching that statute, it would appear that Governor Edwards forgot to mention something. There are exclusions to the governor’s authority, and all other authority, given in La. R.S. 29:760. Namely, those of La. R.S. 29:736.

Louisiana Revised Statute – Title 29:736

§736.  Exclusion

D.  Nothing in this Chapter shall be interpreted to diminish the rights guaranteed to all persons under the Declaration of Rights of the Louisiana Constitution or the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.

Most of us know the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution but aren’t familiar with our declared rights in our State Constitution. Many are similar and some have even greater definitions. A few have been listed below.

Louisiana Constitution – ARTICLE I. Declaration of Rights:

§1. Origin and Purpose of Government

Section 1. All government, of right, originates with the people, is founded on their will alone, and is instituted to protect the rights of the individual and for the good of the whole…The rights enumerated in this Article are inalienable by the state and shall be preserved inviolate by the state.

§2. Due Process of Law

Section 2. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, except by due process of law.

§3. Right to Individual Dignity

Section 3. …Slavery and involuntary servitude are prohibited, except in the latter case as punishment for crime.

§4. Right to Property

Section 4.(A) Every person has the right to acquire, own, control, use, enjoy, protect, and dispose of private property.

§5. Right to Privacy

Section 5. Every person shall be secure in his person, property, communications, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches, seizures, or invasions of privacy. No warrant shall issue without probable cause supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, the persons or things to be seized, and the lawful purpose or reason for the search.

§8. Freedom of Religion

Section 8. No law shall be enacted respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

§9. Right of Assembly and Petition

Section 9. No law shall impair the right of any person to assemble peaceably or to petition government for a redress of grievances.”

The Original Question

So, how is it that the Governor has authority to completely control your life and business?

The facts and answer are before you…

  1. Article I Declaration of Rights, Section 1 “The rights enumerated in this Article are inalienable by the state and shall be preserved inviolate by the state.”
  2. The Governor has declared an health emergency to exist within Louisiana, under the authority of R.S. 29:760.
  3. R.S. 29:736 specifically ensures that the authority given within La. R.S. 29:760, “shall not be interpreted to diminish the rights guaranteed to the people under the Declaration of Rights of the Louisiana Constitution.” So the Constitution and the laws are consistent in protecting our individual rights; The Louisiana Constitution is as valid during the COVID-19 health emergency as it is under normal circumstances.
  4. Article I Declaration of Rights, Section 2 informs us an individual’s right to liberty and use of their property, may only be “deprived” “by due process of law.”
  5. Article I Declaration of Rights, Section 5 informs us that the only time an individual or their private property may be searched, seized, or their privacy invaded is by warrant with “probable cause supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, the persons or things to be seized, and the lawful purpose or reason for the search.”

If you believe the Governor’s proclamations are in conflict with your rights and the Louisiana Constitution and the laws of the State of Louisiana there are things you can do.

Defend your rights

There are also remedies within the statutes to correct any misinterpretation or misapplication in the execution of the law.

Title 29 §768.  Termination of declaration of public health emergency

B.  The legislature, in consultation with the public health authority, by a petition signed by a majority of the surviving members of either house, may terminate a state of public health emergency at any time.  This petition terminating the public health emergency may establish a period during which no other declaration of public health emergency may be issued.  Thereupon, the governor shall issue an executive order or proclamation ending the state of public health or emergency.

And

Titled 29 §736.  Exclusions

D. …This Chapter shall not violate Article II (Distribution of Powers), Article III (Legislative Branch), or Article V (Judicial Branch) of the Louisiana Constitution.  The courts shall be open, and every person shall have an adequate remedy by due process of law and justice, administered without denial, partiality, or unreasonable delay, for injury to him in his person, property, reputation, or other rights.  The orders of all courts shall have their full force and effect.  The legislature may call itself into session at any time and shall exercise its powers and duties.  Its ability to enact law, appropriate funds, and confirm appointees shall be in full force.  The privileges and immunities of legislators shall be respected.

Encourage your legislators to end the Governor Edwards’ Emergency Declaration and open Louisiana. Present the facts: the Health Emergency Powers Act laws of the State of Louisiana and the Constitution and declared rights of the people.

Find your legislators here:
http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/FindMyLegislators.aspx

Sign Senator Sharon Hewitt’s petition to re-open Louisiana here:
https://www.openlanow.com

Attend the rally this Saturday, May 2nd, 2020. More information is available here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/s/louisiana-free/354563705500584/

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