Emergency Powers in Colorado

Although I’m no expert on emergency-powers law, I’m (tentatively) of the view that it needs to be reined in, in Colorado and elsewhere.

Joshua Sharf worries that Colorado Governor Jared Polis overreached in exercising emergency powers in three main ways: “First, he forbade evictions for non-payment of rent, despite previously having said he lacked such power. Then, he announced the suspension of election laws relating to signature-gathering for initiatives. And most recently (one fears to say, finally), Gov. Polis unilaterally allocated $1.6 billion of federal CARES Act money.”

David French reviews the general background of emergency-power laws in the U.S.

Scott Weiser reviews Colorado law: “Polis’ broad emergency power to close businesses, quarantine grounded in law, steeped in history.”

Constitutional scholar Rob Natelson wrote a series of critical articles on Colorado lockdowns:
Denver’s lockdown order probably unconstitutional”
Polis lock-down order adds chaos to unconstitutionality”
How state lockdowns are destroying lives, creating national conflict”
Unelected officials shouldn’t have such power; a proposal for reform”
Ruling exposes rights violations in state’s lockdown orders”
States’ emergency powers still subject to the Constitution”
Latest COVID orders layer chaos over confusion, add to risk”

In his piece on reform, Natelson suggests that, rather than issue orders themselves, health authorities should recommend policy and solicit public comment, while elected officials should actually issue all relevant emergency orders. That’s not what happened in Colorado. Instead, Polis issued orders that basically told health authorities to issue orders.

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