A Judge Just Dethroned California COVID Dictator Gavin Newsom

Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool

Gavin Newsom may want to mask up for the news. The California governor was just dethroned by a Superior Court judge who reminded him on Monday that he’s not a king, but a servant of the people – people who elected a legislature to make laws.


Sutter County Superior Court Judge Sarah Heckman barred Newsom from making new coronavirus laws that use the “California Emergency Services Act [which] amends, alters, or changes existing statutory law or makes new statutory law or legislative policy.”

The decision Monday afternoon was a pointed reminder to Newsom that there’s such a thing as a legislature, whose job, after all, is to make laws. It forbade him from exercising, as my colleague over at RedState Jennifer Van Laar characterized, “one-man rule.

That assessment was echoed by California State Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, who said, “the judge has ruled in our case against Gavin Newsom. We won. The Judge found good cause to issue a permanent injunction restraining the Governor from issuing further unconstitutional orders.”

The ruling was met with delight by people sick and tired of the governor’s heavy-handed coronavirus diktats, such as the state legislators that brought the lawsuit.

The lawsuit centers on one of the Newsom diktats from June that rewrote the laws on holding elections, which the legislature later adopted. Though it’s too late for Tuesday’s election and doesn’t apply because the legislature ratified Newsom’s diktat, the court reminded the governor that, going forward, he can’t rewrite the law even under his emergency powers.


Newsom wanted the lawsuit issue declared moot, but that didn’t fly with the judge, who issued a permanent injunction.

Assemblyman James Gallagher said the ruling was a victory for the separation of powers.

“This was never politics; it was never partisan. This ruling will affect whoever is governor, not just this governor, but those in the future. It’s about respecting that balance of power ad the fundamental separation of powers that is fundamental to our system of government.”

Gallagher and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley argued that Newsom arrogated to himself the job of making laws, which is the job of the legislature, which has taken a back seat during COVID.

Assemblyman Kiley kept a running tally of laws the governor had changed under the auspices of emergency COVID powers without the legislature. They included extending “deadlines for businesses to renew licenses, file reports, or pay taxes; delayed consumers’ late fees for paying taxes or renewing drivers licenses; suspended school districts’ deadlines and instructional requirements; suspended medical privacy rules…”


Newsom invoked COVID to allow grocery stores to hand out free single-use bags and couples to officially be married online with documents digitally signed.

It’s the second time that Newsom has been knocked down by a judge over the same issue. He appealed the last ruling and got his hand slapped again on Monday.

The judge said that the California Emergency Services Act is constitutional but the governor can’t be a dictator.

Huh. What a concept.


Victoria Taft is the host of “The Adult in the Room Podcast With Victoria Taft.” Find it at your favorite podcast outlets. Follow her on Facebook,  Twitter and Parler @VictoriaTaft 


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