Gov. Lamont’s emergency powers challenged in court

A lawsuit filed in state superior court Monday on behalf of two restaurant owners, a skin care business, a woman who was fined for violating quarantine after travel and Rep. Mike France, R-Ledyard, is asking the court to declare the governor’s emergency powers invalid.

Gov. Ned Lamont’s emergency powers were extended until February following a vote by legislative leaders and members of the Public Health Committee. Republicans voted against extending the governor’s powers but were overruled by Democrats who held the majority of the votes.

The plaintiffs are represented by Rep. Craig Fishbein, R-Wallingford, and Rep. Doug Dubitsky, R-Chaplin, who have filed other lawsuits challenging the governor’s executive orders.

The complaint contains two counts: the first asserting that the COVID-19 pandemic does not fall under the category of a civil preparedness emergency as defined in state statute, and the second that Connecticut’s low hospitalization rate means the governor’s extension of the public health emergency declaration is invalid.

The governor’s powers to suspend legislation and regulations comes under the civil preparedness emergency statute, which defines a “major disaster” as “hurricane, tornado, storm, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm or drought, or, regardless of cause, any fire, flood, explosion, or man-made disaster in any part of this state.” 

The lawsuit states that the governor has not identified any of those incidents to warrant a civil preparedness emergency declaration.

The statute definitions indicate that the governor may declare such an emergency under the civil preparedness and public health emergency section. The lawsuit contends that the civil preparedness emergency declaration did not meet the statutory criteria.

The second count regards the continuation of the public health emergency despite the low numbers of hospitalizations and deaths. The complaint cites data published by the State Department of Education and the Department of Public Health showing the hospitalization rate as .3 per 100,000 people in August, just before Lamont declared an extension of his emergency powers on September 1.  

“DPH’s own published data make clear that the risk of contracting COVID-19, the risk of being hospitalized due to COVID-19, and the risk of dying from COVID-19 in Connecticut from COVID-19 are very small,” the complaint reads.

Graph presented in court complaint based on numbers from the CT Dept. of Public Health

The public health emergency statute says the governor’s powers will end when there is no longer a “substantial risk of a significant number of human fatalities or incidents of long-term disability.”

“Since the Defendant’s original declaration of public health emergency on March 10, 2020, the prospect of COVID-19 posing a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to Connecticut’s residents has reduced to the point that makes the Defendant’s continued usurpation of the Legislative Branch’s constitutional powers to modify and/or suspend statutes and/or regulations completely meritless,” the complaint reads.

The business owners claim they have been harmed by the governor’s closure of non-essential businesses and the delay of the governor’s phased reopening plan. Based on hospitalization rates, Connecticut should have entered into its third reopening phase, but Lamont has held back, citing upticks of coronavirus in other states.

The complaint also cites the governor’s travel restrictions, which levy a fine against people who do not quarantine following travel into Connecticut from particular states and resulted in a fine against one of the plaintiffs.

The governor announced more fines on Monday for people who violate his orders regarding the use of masks and social gatherings.

Rep. Mike France is also a plaintiff, arguing that the governor’s emergency powers have usurped his legislative powers.

This is the fifth such lawsuit filed challenging the governor’s emergency declaration or his executive orders. 

Roxy Nail Salon filed a lawsuit challenging the governor’s quick about-face on allowing nail salons to reopen at the same time as hair salons. The governor pushed back the reopening date for nail salons by two weeks but allowed hair salons and barber shops to reopen.

Another lawsuit filed by a variety of businesses, including Sen. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, in his capacity as a realor, challenges the constitutionality of Lamont’s closure of businesses deemed non-essential. 

Two other lawsuits challenge the State Department of Education’s mask requirement for students returning to school.

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(23) Comments

  1. Chelsea

    October 19, 2020 9:48 pm

    Governor Lamont has done a terrible disservice to the people of CT. His power grab is unconstitutional and needs to be checked. The separate & equal branches of government are fundamental to our democracy.

    • Larry

      November 6, 2020 7:15 am

      This is what happens with you have ONE party rule! The democrats control everything unchecked!

  2. Janice DeGiorgio

    September 19, 2020 11:15 am

    Again Daryl…thank you, some people just don’t read facts…..she must have voted for Lamont…

  3. Janice DeGiorgio

    September 19, 2020 11:01 am

    This idiot shouldn’t even be GOVERNER, never mind trying to make LAWS. Everyone is laughing at this clown. trying to fine people for not wearing masks, we should all get together and fine him for looking like a slob, we hardly ever see HIM wearing a mask…goes to a 9/11 memorial service with shirt opened, no tie, hands in pocket, etc. etc. real pig, no respect at all…We guess he never read the book. ” How to be a Governer !” He believes he’s GOD…what a JOKE…….He can NOT make laws period….Get that Lamont !!!!!OOPS, my computer hates spell check, sorry everyone….

  4. Patty Oneal

    September 19, 2020 9:28 am

    King ned and his cronies have made up the rules for us and did enough damage to this State. Since when is our government a dictatorship from a self serving tyrant? And I thought Malloy was bad…

  5. Christopher DeFeo

    September 17, 2020 12:16 am

    I’m done seeing small businesses close their doors forever! All because of your agenda! You are acting in an extremely selfish manor fueled by your hunger for power that is clearly being demonstrated and abused! Humble yourself King Ned.

  6. Kara

    September 16, 2020 9:32 pm

    I absolutely support a mask mandate. It is the only PROVEN preventative to COVID besides complete isolation. You wear a mask to protect others. It’s simple science. It’s not forever.

    • Daryl Licht

      September 17, 2020 10:58 am

      This isn’t about mask wearing Kara

      • Janice DeGiorgio

        September 19, 2020 11:08 am

        Thank You Daryl..!!!

    • Mark Alexander

      September 26, 2020 8:41 am

      If you continue the mask mandate, continue to keep healthy people isolated, continue to close businesses, continue to to prevent churches from operating, you are not allowing the virus to run it’s course, JUST LIKE WE HAVE ALWAYS DONE WITH VIRUS OUTBREAKS! The science now shows a very unlikely chance of dying from this virus, even if you are over 70 but still healthy. Do your research instead of being sheeple and destroying our state.

  7. Jackie Heftman

    September 16, 2020 4:39 pm

    We should be thanking the governor for our low numbers of COVID. Because most of the citizens in CT adhered to his executive orders lives were saved. The states that have relaxed their rules or never implemented restrictions are seeming their numbers go up drastically. Why would we not want to protect the lives of our senior citizens and people with compromised immune systems? Are we so shallow that only our comforts matter and not the greater good of society?

    • Daryl Licht

      September 17, 2020 11:01 am

      Ct has the 4th highest death count in US Jackie. Nothing to be thankful about , rather he should be condemned.

  8. Donald E Craig

    September 16, 2020 2:28 pm

    The ill-conceived emergency powers give to the governor must end, the execution there of has been nothing short of capricious, unreasonable, and ineffectual with a strong overtone of political corruption. I did not elect representatives to Hartford so you could abandon your responsibilities to the whims of a ne’er do well NY carpet bagger and his panel of unelected crony “Experts” on whom we can blame the deaths of 4465 CT citizens and the third highest death per thousand population in the US. Seems to me, doing nothing would have had as good a chance of preventing these deaths as anything these “experts” thought to do. Only, if we had done nothing, there would be an economy left and countless businesses would still be functioning and more importantly, generating much needed taxes. Governor Lamont and the Ct state assembly have failed us.

  9. Lisa

    September 16, 2020 1:24 pm

    Enough of this looser Lamont and his cronies! He needs to go and so do ALL the Democrats running this dump of a state!!! Time to move out!!!

  10. Kathleen Aspinall

    September 16, 2020 9:24 am

    Connecticut needs to reopen ALL the businesses.

  11. Chris

    September 16, 2020 7:57 am

    Lamont has to go! Reopen CT now!!!!

  12. Ruthann

    September 16, 2020 4:08 am

    I am happy this process has begun. The Federal Court determined PA’s Governor’s actions were unconstitutional voting the First and Fourth Amendments, so I hope the same is found with these lawsuits.

    • Kate Paganini

      September 16, 2020 1:10 pm

      This guy is overreaching his authority. The last time I checked, we still have rights as Americans. No one should have the ability to use executive authority so that citizens can be controlled.

    • Debra mckenna

      September 16, 2020 5:47 pm

      When the law doesn’t apply to the lawmakers, we’re not being governed, we’re being ruled.

  13. Connecticut Resident

    September 15, 2020 6:53 pm

    I knew from the moment that these mandates started to go into effect that it would eventually devolve into a full blown culture war, and it has, not just here in the U.S. but in other countries as well. I have never abided by these absurd guidelines since the beginning and I never will, not for one second. I don’t capitulate to dictatorial mandates being perpetuated by an opportunistic politician who is running the state unilaterally without the input from the legislature. The numbers no longer justify this insanity.

  14. Todd

    September 15, 2020 5:17 pm

    It’s about time that “King Ned” be put in his place. The Democrats are cowards and won’t stand up to him for the rights of the citizens.

  15. Shannon

    September 15, 2020 5:08 pm

    Woohoo, YES! Illegal seizure of power and control. WE the people disagree!

  16. John

    September 15, 2020 1:23 pm

    In reality all the representatives in Connecticut should join in this case, but politics being what they are I would expect every republican to join. The fact that they do not shows their lack of leadership qualities and they should be removed from office at the next election.

    I applaud the plaintiffs involved in this and wish them success. The economic fate of this state depends on it reopening as soon as possible and many of us have reached the end of our patience when it comes to having our constitutional rights superseded.

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