An article by Politico about a week ago questions the legitimacy of California Governor Gavin Newsom’s awesome powers he seems to be wielding in the Golden State during the COVID-19 coronavirus panic. From the article, I read the following:
States are afforded broad authority under constitutional law, which grants them “police power” to improve the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the population. Under California’s Emergency Services Act, the governor’s powers are virtually unlimited — he can suspend any law or regulation during a state of emergency.
“Under the law, that act instantaneously activates a huge transfer of power from the legislative branch to the executive branch,” said Garry South, an adviser to former Gov. Gray Davis during the 2001 energy crisis. “The governor can ignore laws, unilaterally suspend [environmental laws] and other regulations, spend state funds in ways other than those allocated by the Legislature, and essentially govern via executive order.”
In other words, he can act as legislatively as he wants, creating, modifying, repealing, or suspending laws as he sees fit.
The California State Constitution, ARTICLE IV LEGISLATIVE [SEC. 1 – SEC. 28], (Heading of Article 4 amended Nov. 8, 1966, by Prop. 1-a. Res.Ch. 139, 1966 1st Ex. Sess.), reads:
SEC. 1. – The legislative power of this State is vested in the California Legislature which consists of the Senate and Assembly, but the people reserve to themselves the powers of initiative and referendum.
The eighth word in that clause is the word “vested.” The word vested is also used in Articles I, II, and III of the United States Constitution when referring to the powers granted to each of the three branches of government.
VEST’ING, ppr. [from vest.] Clothing; covering; closely encompassing; descending to and becoming permanent, as a right or title; converting into other species of property, as money. [.] VEST’ING, n. Cloth for vests; vest patterns.
Sir William Blackstone, in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, explains that when “vest” is used as a legal governmental term (in his case, regarding the King and Parliament), the possession of such a legal authority is “unalienably vested.”
Studying these writings, and others, what we realize is that the legal definition of the word “vest” from the point of view of the Founding Fathers, of whom’s approval, even if post-mortem, the writer’s of the various State Constitutions sought, was that the granting of such powers or authorities (when the word “vest” is used) are irrevocable under any scenario.
Therefore, the granting to Governor Gavin Newsom of any legislative powers, and his use of such powers in such a way, are unconstitutional, and therefore, illegal.
The thing is, Newsom knows this, which is why in his executive orders he uses the word “heed” when referring your duties as a citizen regarding his orders.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of “heed” is:
: to pay attention
: to give consideration or attention to
In other words, he knows he has no legal authority to order you to do anything. By using the word “heed,” Newsom is telling you he would like you to take his orders into consideration. He’s hoping you don’t know enough to realize that in the end, you are not required to follow any of his notices or policies if there is no legislative force of law behind them.