Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Letter to Legislators

 

I sent the following letter to my state legislators. I hope that others will send a similar one:

Emergency powers are designed to temporarily consolidate authority to address a situation requiring an immediate response. Those powers are not meant to endure until that special authority decides to relinquish them. The extraordinary powers end as soon as time allows for the normal legislative process to resume.

However threatening the COVID-19/SARS-2 pandemic remains, the time for rule by county judges and governors has passed. The state government must insist on a return to due process of law and regular legislative authority.

Published in Law
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  1. E. Kent Golding Member

    The Michigan Supreme Court was slow, but got there…

    Governor Whitmer is evil, power hungry, and not the least bit self aware.

    • #1
    • October 17, 2020, at 6:09 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  2. Sisyphus Coolidge
    SisyphusJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The trick here is that legislatures fear the responsibility. The cowards that are most frantically rowing the republic into the sewer are our duly elected legislators at all levels. When Speaker Pelosi said that they would have to pass the ACA to know what was in the ACA, it was because the hundreds of pages of the act did not even begin to define a solution. It pronounced broad authorization and passed the ball to the administrative state to fill in those last niggling little details. The 99% of details.

    Anyone who thought this was a good idea did not follow the hilarious and futile efforts to erect state and federal websites in time to meet the deadline. So now we are supposed to cheer at proposals to put these awesomeful forces to work fixing that awfulesome problem of discordant news escaping into the society. 

    Lord have mercy.

     

    • #2
    • October 17, 2020, at 6:25 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  3. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    Letters to “our” so-called legislators would hit the digital round-file in moments. They agree with Inslee ruling by decree.

    • #3
    • October 17, 2020, at 10:27 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  4. Illiniguy Member
    IlliniguyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Sisyphus (View Comment):

    The trick here is that legislatures fear the responsibility. The cowards that are most frantically rowing the republic into the sewer are our duly elected legislators at all levels…

    Lord have mercy.

     

    Grading on the curve, I’d say you passed. However, it’s not legislatures that fear the responsibility, it’s those who lead the legislatures who fear the responsibility, at least here in Illinois. For months the Republican members of the House of Representatives (of which I’m one) have been calling upon the Governor to call a special session of the Legislature to debate the ongoing string of executive orders that he’s been issuing pursuant to the disaster declaration he issued in March.

    I agree that executive orders need to be issued with strict limitations on applicability, and using a single disaster declaration as the justification for a continuing stream of orders puts us at risk of losing control of the governing process, which begins with, or at least must include the Legislature. If, as the Governor tells us, Illinois is entering a “second wave” of the pandemic, then a new disaster declaration is appropriate. Doing so after consultation with the elected representatives of the people would give such a declaration a stamp of moral authority that I think he’s now lost.

    Here in Illinois, we have the additional problem of having a House Speaker who is under investigation in a bribery scandal that threatens to take him down. The last thing he wants is for us to convene and then have to endure the airing of grievances by members of his own party whose primary motivation is one of distancing themselves from him before an election while still taking hundreds of thousands (and in some cases, millions) of campaign dollars from a number of war chests that he controls.

    Let me conclude by saying that I’m not fully unsympathetic to the Governor for what his intentions are in stopping, or at least slowing the spread of COVID. We’re all going through something none of us have seen before (but The Great Influenza by John Barry is eerily similar to what we’re seeing now), and I’ve been willing to cut him some slack. But as an elected representative, I need to be on record as saying where the lines need to be drawn. That can only come if we’re in session, and I don’t see that happening here in Illinois any time soon.

    • #4
    • October 18, 2020, at 6:53 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  5. Al Sparks Thatcher

    First, the lockdowns continue to be popular. Polls show overwhelming support. So a letter to your legislator opposing the lockdown is useless.

    But governors should be required to go back to their legislatures for extensions. And state constitutions should restrict the granting or extending of emergency powers to a month at a time.

    Force the legislature to provide oversight and do their job.

    • #5
    • October 18, 2020, at 9:51 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  6. Z in MT Member

    I think this is the major political failure of our time. Law makers are refusing to make law. It is something that I think the founders did not expect. How did we get here? How do we get the legislators and Congress to defend their power?

    • #6
    • October 18, 2020, at 10:15 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  7. Gary Robbins Reagan

    Well said. Good job.

    • #7
    • October 18, 2020, at 10:28 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. namlliT noD Member
    namlliT noDJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    A strongly worded letter isn’t going to help.

    Y’need a lawsuit.

    • #8
    • October 18, 2020, at 12:25 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. Sisyphus Coolidge
    SisyphusJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Illiniguy (View Comment):

    Grading on the curve, I’d say you passed. However, it’s not legislatures that fear the responsibility, it’s those who lead the legislatures who fear the responsibility, at least here in Illinois. For months the Republican members of the House of Representatives (of which I’m one) have been calling upon the Governor to call a special session of the Legislature to debate the ongoing string of executive orders that he’s been issuing pursuant to the disaster declaration he issued in March.

    I agree that executive orders need to be issued with strict limitations on applicability, and using a single disaster declaration as the justification for a continuing stream of orders puts us at risk of losing control of the governing process, which begins with, or at least must include the Legislature. If, as the Governor tells us, Illinois is entering a “second wave” of the pandemic, then a new disaster declaration is appropriate. Doing so after consultation with the elected representatives of the people would give such a declaration a stamp of moral authority that I think he’s now lost.

    Thank you for the informative response. I love hearing from practitioners in areas where I have little direct experience.

    I have met serious, dedicated legislators at the local and the federal levels. They are a special breed, but they are almost always outnumbered. I am not surprised to find the Illinois legislature enfeebled by 19th Century parliamentary procedures, my Chicago cousins regale the family with lurid tales of the pervasive corruption in Chicago politics in a bon vivant boys will be boys tone. They hide in the burbs and point over the border and laugh.

    I understand the urban/rural divide in Illinois politics, I spent a few months in O’Fallon once, which was a different world from Chicago. It is an echo of the urban/rural divide countrywide and even worldwide. 

    In Virginia, I read Dumas Malone’s account of Thomas Jefferson struggling as governor with the hidebound 17th Century governing framework and over the next decade saw the remnants of that same framework frustrate governors of both parties. I think Jefferson was frustrated in every executive office, being a big ideas man with no love for the flesh pressing and coalition building. Of course, wartime Virginia would have been a challenge for any governor.

    Sounds like Illinois is skewed to the opposite pole with a strong executive. Thank you for fighting the good fight. Sounds like your only lever for the moment is publicity, but how to highlight the plight of the low density citizen without freaking out the public transportation and elevator crowd.

    Herd immunity or bust. Best of luck.

     

    • #9
    • October 18, 2020, at 12:39 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. Sisyphus Coolidge
    SisyphusJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    namlliT noD (View Comment):

    A strongly worded letter isn’t going to help.

    Y’need a lawsuit.

    A lawsuit’ll get it solved. For Covid-32.

    • #10
    • October 18, 2020, at 12:41 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  11. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron MillerJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    namlliT noD (View Comment):

    A strongly worded letter isn’t going to help.

    Y’need a lawsuit.

    Sadly, the people with the money and time for lawsuits are often not the people with the interest and gumption. I wouldn’t be surprised if the average citizen was denied standing. 

    You would have thought an association of bars and restaurants would have sued months ago. Or an organization of churches. There are some pending lawsuits around the country, but too few.

    • #11
    • October 18, 2020, at 1:03 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  12. Sisyphus Coolidge
    SisyphusJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    namlliT noD (View Comment):

    A strongly worded letter isn’t going to help.

    Y’need a lawsuit.

    Sadly, the people with the money and time for lawsuits are often not the people with the interest and gumption. I wouldn’t be surprised if the average citizen was denied standing.

    You would have thought an association of bars and restaurants would have sued months ago. Or an organization of churches. There are some pending lawsuits around the country, but too few.

    Uncertainty as to when the lockdown will be lifted mitigates against putting precious and stretched resources into a pricey legal battle. You would think one of our many alcoholic trial lawyers would have risen in passionate pro bono defense of the bar owners, but the panic has seized many potential clients and business has been slow for them, as well.

    • #12
    • October 18, 2020, at 2:51 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. tigerlily Member

    Al Sparks (View Comment):

     

    But governors should be required to go back to their legislatures for extensions. And state constitutions should restrict the granting or extending of emergency powers to a month at a time.

    Force the legislature to provide oversight and do their job.

    Agree on this. However, I also think local governments (county & city) deserve to have some say so in statewide emergency orders they see as unnecessary and/or harmful to them. Historically most emergency orders have been for discrete events with limited time horizons and geography (fires, floods, earthquakes, civil disturbances, etc) that most everyone sees and understands those type of events. That’s not the case with this. Perhaps proposed legislation should spell out the sorts of potential emergencies (such as this one) that would require more oversight and political accountability by the legislature.

     

    • #13
    • October 18, 2020, at 6:36 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. tigerlily Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    namlliT noD (View Comment):

    A strongly worded letter isn’t going to help.

    Y’need a lawsuit.

    Sadly, the people with the money and time for lawsuits are often not the people with the interest and gumption. I wouldn’t be surprised if the average citizen was denied standing.

    You would have thought an association of bars and restaurants would have sued months ago. Or an organization of churches. There are some pending lawsuits around the country, but too few.

    What I want to see is Republicans at the state level putting forward legislation that would prevent the one man rule we’ve experienced in state after state over the last eight months.

    • #14
    • October 18, 2020, at 7:18 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  15. CarolJoy, Thread Hijacker Coolidge

    tigerlily (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    namlliT noD (View Comment):

    A strongly worded letter isn’t going to help.

    Y’need a lawsuit.

    Sadly, the people with the money and time for lawsuits are often not the people with the interest and gumption. I wouldn’t be surprised if the average citizen was denied standing.

    You would have thought an association of bars and restaurants would have sued months ago. Or an organization of churches. There are some pending lawsuits around the country, but too few.

    What I want to see is Republicans at the state level putting forward legislation that would prevent the one man rule we’ve experienced in state after state over the last eight months.

    Why is there a need for legislation?

    After reading through the Michigan court’s ruling on Whitmer, the individual is informed that all that needs to happen is for someone to take a legal stance that the state of Illinois, or any of the other states, is operating inside the operating principles of the state’s constitution. And if it is doing that, but what it is doing is unConstitutional, than that right there is grounds for a lawsuit.

    In fact, tomorrow, Oct 21st, there will be a court ruling on Kevin Kiley** and Gallagher’s lawsuit against the Governor Of California, that

    One) Gov Newsom is not acting in accordance of their reading of the meaning of California’s great State Constitution.

    And…

    Two) If the court feels Newsom is acting in accordance with the State’s Constitution, than that State Constitution is in violation of the US Constitution.

    **Kiley and Gallagher are duly elected state legislators here in California

    • #15
    • October 20, 2020, at 6:14 PM PDT
    • 1 like
    • This comment has been edited.
  16. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron MillerJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Apropos, I realized today that the veracity of my signature at the voting station could be challenged. Despite the presence of hand sanitizer, the germaphobic setup had me sign a tilted screen with a rubber-covered finger. Of course, that signature is noticeably different from a penned signature on a flat table. 

    That’s just one example of the many ways normal voting procedures have been disrupted and opened to retrospective interpretation. This election will be a disaster regardless of the winner. 

    • #16
    • October 20, 2020, at 7:02 PM PDT
    • 2 likes