STATE HOUSE–You may have wondered if the governor actually has the authority to shut down private businesses like restaurants and bars. An attorney that represents city boards and government says yes.
“For better or worse our states have tremendous latitude and authority to do just about anything in order to advance and protect public health and that includes substantial police powers,” said Josh Clayborn, an attorney with Jackson Kelly in Evansville.
Clayborn said the national government, including the president, have much more limited power within states. But, governors can do plenty in times of public health crisis.
He explained that the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that powers not reserved for the federal government belong to the states.
“The governor or the president can’t act on their own. What happens is the legislature authorizes and delegates the governor to do a lot of sweeping things in the event he or she declares an emergency,” said Claypool. Gov. Holcomb has declared a state of emergency. “A whole bucket of different powers are now available to him.”
Clayborn also said it would be tough for anyone to check the governor.
“To rein that in to the extent someone decided they wanted to, it would require the legislature to act and to meet and pass something.”
Clayborn said mayors also have some authority, but the authority granted the governor by the state, trumps that.