Yesterday, the Flanders Legal Center for Freedom, an initiative of the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, released a brief analysis of the laws under which Governor Gina Raimondo has been dictating rules for all Rhode Islanders and our businesses, churches, and organizations. In short, those powers are not unlimited, and they are not intended to go without review.
The General Assembly has the absolute authority to end a declared state of emergency, especially when the Governor may not be acting with “restraint and moderation and with strict regard to the rights of the people.” This according to a legal analysis released today by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity (Center).
The six-page analysis, conducted by the new Flanders Legal Center for Freedom, an initiative of the Center, takes a close look at the Rhode Island General Laws that vest emergency powers with the Governor. In examining the statutes under RI General Laws § 30-15, those powers are neither unlimited, unchecked, nor intended to be exercised with unbridled discretion.
Emergency powers are meant give the chief executive the ability to make decisions when they must be immediate. Where there is time for deliberation, the legislature must be involved. Their choice to hide from responsibility doesn’t give the governor new powers. It means the government can’t respond as necessary. If the General Assembly wishes to expand the governor’s emergency powers, it must pass a new law to do so (which courts may still find unconstitutional).
This applies most notably to the unilateral action the governor has taken to cancel months of school across the board, limit inalienable rights (e.g., the practice of religion), and forecast regulatory restrictions for the entire summer season.