Republicans drop suits against Newson’s plan to send mail ballots
San Francisco Chronicle
Three Republican lawsuits seeking to block Gov. Gavin Newsom from sending mail ballots to every active California voter this fall through an executive order have disappeared, victims of a Democratic bill that the governor has signed into law.
In the past few days, legal challenges to the governor’s May 8 executive order by the Republican National Committee and the California Republican Party, San Diego-area congressional candidate Darrell Issa, and a pair of GOP assemblymen have all been dropped or tossed out of court.
In all three suits, Republicans charged that Newsom’s powers under his coronavirus pandemic emergency declaration in March didn’t give him the right to unilaterally make changes in state election rules.
Republicans described Newsom’s action as “a brazen power grab,” with Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the national committee, arguing in May that Democrats “continue to use this pandemic as a ploy to implement their partisan election agenda.”
In his order, Newsom said he will “continue to work with the Legislature and the Secretary of State” to put together final rules for the election.
The executive order “was necessary to send an early signal to county elections officials so they could begin planning for the general election,” said Democratic Assemblyman Marc Berman of Palo Alto, whose bill requiring mail ballots, AB860, was signed by Newsom last month. “It was really an insurance policy in case my bill … ran into unexpected obstacles.”
With that bill in place, “the issue of whether the Governor’s Executive Order exceeds his authority is partially, but not entirely moot,” Presiding Judge Vance Raye of the Third District Court of Appeal said Friday in his order on the suit brought by GOP Assemblymen James Gallagher of Nicholaus (Sutter County) and Kevin Kiley of Rocklin (Placer County).
“Pending legislation was meant to ultimately govern the election,” Ray said in his order lifting the temporary restraining order a Sutter County Superior Court judge used to block the mail ballot plan.
On Thursday, Issa quietly dropped his lawsuit, agreeing with Newsom’s attorneys that the suit was now moot.