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Edwards keeps politicizing virus issue

As always when Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards exhibits his arrogance, understand that what he alleges of his opponents serves as a distraction from realizing he does exactly what he accuses others of doing.

That trait manifested yet again concerning Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry’s opinion about, specifically, a face covering requirement issued by Democrat Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins but expanded to address Edwards’ recent proclamation 89 JBE 2020. That order issued a masking requirement for anybody age 8 or older in public indoor places with “commercial establishments” responsible for enforcement (the Perkins version for Shreveport added penalties such as turning off the city-run water at noncompliant businesses), as well as closing bars, all in response to rising infection and hospitalization rates from the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.

The opinion provided the legal justification to sentiments expressed here: the masking requirement – not just as it relates to individuals but for the supposed enforcement – didn’t have enough justification to permit the curtailment of liberties ordered. It doesn’t cancel the order, but provides a basis to a court challenge and leaves the legality of enforcement in doubt.


LA should redefine qualified immunity

Just because a previous effort didn’t suffice doesn’t mean Louisiana legislators shouldn’t look seriously at altering the concept of qualified immunity for state and local officials.

Qualified immunity, first articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court over a half-century ago, is a judicially created legal doctrine that shields government officials performing discretionary duties from civil liability in cases involving the deprivation of statutory or constitutional rights.  Government officials are entitled to qualified immunity so long as their actions do not violate “clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.”

Thus, at the state and local level, plenary organs may establish what kinds of acts fall under this kind of protection, if any. It doesn’t extend to criminal behavior, but prevents levying monetary judgments against government officials who cross boundaries and reasonably knew that. In doing so, this protects officials – almost always law enforcement officers – from punishment when thrown into nebulous situations with imperfect information available for decision-making.


Court returns reason to race impact on policy

As parts of the country hurtle into policy-making based upon spurious claims of racism, at least the part of the federal judiciary that oversees Louisiana kept its wits about it.

At the end of June, a panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, and convincingly, a 2017 Louisiana Middle District ruling that declared the judicial election method used for the state’s 32nd District unconstitutional. That district encompasses Terrebone Parish.

There, voters across the parish elect judges who run in any of five slots. The at-large, parish-wide selection in five sections until 2014 had produced only white judges when a black Republican – like the other four winners running unopposed – took a seat on the bench. Terrebone’s black population makes up a bit under a quarter of the parish.


Chess game with Edwards continues over outlay

Still smarting over his many legislative defeats this year, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards was perturbed enough to conduct some gamesmanship on capital outlay.

The Louisiana Legislature has its Joint Legislative Committee on Capital Outlay to approve of forwarding items from its capital outlay bills to the State Bond Commission. Practically speaking, since the state’s executive branch or local governments carry out the actual projects, for state items it approved it relies upon the governor’s office to carry out the steps towards project completion, including sending these to the SBC to garner debt financing.

Typically, the highest-priority projects and those that already have money spent and need more perfunctorily move to the SBC. But the Edwards Administration said it wanted to hold off starting work on $136 million worth, about a fifth of the total and far above the usual amount. Those not included didn’t have a full cash commitment, except for seven specially-designated projects. In essence, this holds back capacity for projects that Edwards can choose that could allow lower-priority projects to leapfrog others.


Edwards again overreaches on virus policy

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards has often made policy ignoring laws concerning human behavior, such as in the world of economics supply and demand. But when it comes to his response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, he faithfully follows the law of the instrument, which causes problems.

He gave Louisiana another demonstration of that this weekend, when he abruptly retrenched somewhat on reopening the economy and impinged on personal liberty. He proclaimed that bars could provide only take-out service, with the exception of worship a limitation of 50 on crowds in areas without adequate spacing, and mandating face coverings in public places except for worship and with age, health, and consumption exceptions, to last from Jul. 13 to at least Jul. 24.

The rationale he gave focused on a recent increase in the number of cases and hospitalizations with the former disproportionately among younger people and the latter creeping towards full capacity. Supposedly, too many young people were going out and transmitting the virus then passing it along to their elders.