"THE MASSACHUSETTS Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled on Thursday that Gov. Charlie Baker’s various COVID-19 orders were authorized by the Massachusetts Civil Defense Act of 1950, and did not violate the plaintiffs’ due process rights or right to assemble under either the state or federal constitutions. The court’s opinion is superficial and poorly reasoned at best, and intellectually dishonest at worst, and is hardly the end of the matter.
The outcome of the opinion could readily be predicted from its first words, which identified the justice who authored it. Stunningly, that justice during the argument of the case had asked the plaintiffs’ counsel whether he didn’t agree that the governor was doing a good job with his COVID-19 measures. Any first-year law student, and indeed most sentient citizens, would know that the job of a justice ruling on a legal or constitutional challenge to a government measure is not to agree or disagree with any policy underlying the measure, or the results achieved by it, but rather to rule on whether it is indeed legally or constitutionally valid."
SJC got Baker emergency orders case right
THERE ARE AT least two important takeaways from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in Desrosiers v. Governor, in which the court upheld Gov. Charlie Baker’s authority to issue emergency orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
First, the court’s conclusion was undoubtedly correct. The plaintiffs argued that the governor had “usurped” the role of the Legislature and violated the state constitution’s commitment to separation of powers, as well as the plaintiffs’ rights to due process and free assembly. At bottom, the plaintiffs maintained that the governor lacked the authority to issue emergency orders under the Civil Defense Act. That law, enacted in 1950, gave the governor the power to issue emergency orders in the event of, among other things, “fire, flood, earthquake or other natural causes.”
"Today the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled for Governor Charlie Baker in a lawsuit underwritten by Charles Koch and sponsored by Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance/Fiscal Alliance Foundation in which MFA sought to undo the governor’s emergency public health powers—just as Covid-19 is raging across the land. It wasn’t close.This was really a case about conflicting ideologies. On one side is the view that government should be empowered to help people to do needed things the people cannot do for themselves (the view of Abraham Lincoln, by the way) versus Koch’s ideology, which is that government should do nothing except to protect private property."