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California Judge Finds Newsom Lacked Authority for Mail Ballot Order

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

A California judge ruled on Friday that Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) overstepped his authority when he signed an executive order earlier this year sending vote-by-mail ballots to every registered voter in the state. 

Judge Sarah Heckman of the Sutter County Superior Court found the governor lacked the authority to amend or change existing elections law, even under the guise of an emergency. Heckman's ruling allows a permanent injunction to take effect against the governor, barring Newsom from using the California Emergency Services Act to change the law. 

In her ruling, the judge called the case "a critically important one for the Judicial Branch to resolve" since the State of Emergency "continues in effect, indefinitely." 

California Republican Assemblymen Kevin Kiley and James Gallagher, the two plaintiffs in the suit, issued a statement applauding the judge's decision.

"Today, the Court confirmed that Gavin Newsom does not rule California and that we are still a nation of laws," the assemblymen wrote. "California has not been well-served by one-man rule. A return to representative government will be best for public health and the economy. The Governor must accept this ruling as a fundamental principle of our democracy and govern himself accordingly."

Similar legal challenges are being waged in battleground states where other Democratic leaders made changes to the law in the run up to Election Day. Earlier this week, a Pennsylvania judge ordered segregated ballots to be excluded from vote tallies in the state, after finding Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar lacked the "statutory authority" to change the law.

Gov. Newsom also came under fire this week after The San Francisco Chronicle revealed the governor attended a birthday celebration for a political advisor at the luxurious French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley, defying his own coronavirus guidelines prohibiting Californians from attending such gatherings. 

Gavin Newsom clearly thinks he's above the law. 

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