…and not really for anybody else in Louisiana. Because anyone hoping to see the state reopened based on Morvant’s prospective rulings not only didn’t get that, but things actually got a whole lot worse.
We could do a long thing on the proceedings, but the fundamental outcome was that Morvant said the petition to reopen Louisiana signed by the majority of the House of Representatives based on statutory law was moot.
He said that because the petition covered a specific executive order, 134 JBE 2020, which was in place and enforcing mandates and restrictions on the people of Louisiana as a result of COVID-19, on Oct. 23, 2020, the date the petition was filed.
Attorney General Jeff Landry, who jumped in on behalf of the House of Representatives when Gov. John Bel Edwards sued the House to invalidate the petition, went into Morvant’s court almost two weeks ago seeking a temporary restraining order preventing Edwards from issuing a new emergency declaration, because 134 JBE 2020 was going to expire on Nov. 6.
And Morvant denied Landry the TRO.
Now, six days after the expiration of 134 JBE 2020 and a week after 158 JBE 2020, which is the new emergency order which replaced the one in force when the petition was signed, Morvant’s saying it’s moot.
He hasn’t addressed, at all, the fact that the petition bars Edwards from issuing any new emergency orders for seven days after he has signed off on the petition. Morvant pretends that doesn’t even exist.
This matters, because the fact Edwards never issued the proclamation voiding the old emergency order means the petition barred him from issuing a new one, and by the petition and the statute it’s based on, the Nov. 5 order, 158 JBE 2020, ought to be made null and void.
But Morvant simply says that because there’s a new order everything in the petition is now moot.
And when that issue was forced into the light later in the hearing, things got even worse. Morvant said that the homeland-security statute establishing the governor’s powers confers the force of law upon his emergency declarations. He then said something which has the force of law can’t be overturned by one house of the legislature; both are required.
Game that out in your head and it’s chilling. Billy Morvant essentially just declared Louisiana a dictatorship. He just said all a governor needs to do is declare an emergency and then he can impose whatever fiat governance he sees fit, and unless both houses of the Legislature are willing to stand up against him he’s within the law to commit whatever violations of the civil rights of his people he wants.
When the entire point of RS 29:768(B), the statute which allows a petition signed by a majority of either house of the Legislature to cancel the emergency, is to orient Louisiana toward the Constitution. The Constitution is the status quo which can only be disrupted in abnormal, exigent circumstances.
Morvant has made the case that the emergency is now the status quo, and not the Constitution. It means the Constitution no longer exists.
If this isn’t reversed by an appellate court, Louisiana is finished as a constitutional republic.
As of this writing they’re now arguing over the constitutionality of RS 29:768(B). There is no particular reason to believe this will go well; Morvant has already said he’s for whatever outcome that moves the constitutionality issue up the line toward the Louisiana Supreme Court and opined that it’ll go more quickly if he was to strike the law down.
More on this after the hearing is over. But it’s a disaster for liberty in Louisiana.