BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry Thursday filed a response to a lawsuit filed earlier this week by Gov. John Bel Edwards over efforts to revoke his coronavirus orders through a petition signed by GOP House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and 64 other Republican lawmakers in the 105-member House.
Edwards filed suit Monday against the full Legislature, the House and Schexnayder, asking the court to block the move. The suit claims the petition law violates a governor’s constitutional and statutory powers to respond to emergencies. He also said GOP lawmakers didn’t follow the law’s requirement that they consult with the state’s “public health authority” before issuing the petition.
In spite of Landry’s insistence in public statements that the coronavirus restrictions no longer exist, Edwards has made a point to say that his Phase 3 restrictions remain “in full force and effect.” He also called the petition ‘reckless, irresponsible, and unconscionable’ and lambasted the House Republicans who signed it, saying they put at risk Louisiana’s gains in combating two separate virus case spikes.
In a 32-page response to the suit filed Thursday, AG Landry denied most of the governor’s claims and pleas for relief paragraph-by-paragraph on behalf of the House of Representatives, claiming Edwards had failed to provide enough evidence to make his case.
The response also asserts that the 19th Judicial District Court does not have the jurisdiction over the governor’s request for declaratory and injunctive relief because “The Governor’s petition sets forth a political question, and the relief requested would violate the separation of powers doctrine and non-delegation clause.”
The Legislature’s legal response also asks the court to order Edwards to formally lift the emergency orders, or for the court itself to declare them null and void.
“The Governor not only rejected attempts by one of his co-equal branches of government to provide input and oversight, but he also ignored the checks and balances that underpin our government,” Landry said in a statement released with the legal filing Thursday afternoon. “He then filed a lawsuit in an attempt to gain extraordinary powers unfounded in law. But today, the people’s representatives responded with a legal petition of their own to ensure the Governor follows the rule of law. And by following the law, the people will get their seat at the table. After all: the powers authorized by the Louisiana Constitution, as enshrined in our laws, are held by the people and exercised by their elected Legislators.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.