The unelected bureaucracy known as the administrative state is usually associated with Federal government. However, the states also have their own home-grown administrative states, including the state and county health departments that have been responsible for determining what counts as “essential business” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Glenn Roper is an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, who has been closely following the latest developments at the state and local level. He argues in a recent article that emergency powers such as those being exercised by governors violate the separation of powers written into state constitutions. In Wisconsin, for example, health officials were delegated the authority to make the rules on business re-openings – rules which, if violated, implied criminal penalties including arrest. PLF is keeping tabs on where such rules have been enacted, and defending citizens from unconstitutional closures of their businesses.
This Sunday, I will host Roper for the full hour on why a crisis like COVID makes it more important – not less – to enforce a strict separation of powers. If the government is going to take away our rights due to extraordinary circumstances, they must go through the elected legislature. The courts have intervened in Wisconsin, dealing a blow to the “mini-administrative state” there, but elsewhere such as Michigan, the citizens still need help.
- Governments should uphold separation of powers during COVID-19 | Pacific Legal Foundation by Glenn Roper, July 20, 2020
- Issues & Insights: Are Continued Shutdown Orders Constitutional? | Pacific Legal Foundation by Larry Salzman April 27, 2020
- Rebuilding America Requires Freedom | Pacific Legal Foundation’s Roadmap to Recovery