The same senior member of the state House of Representatives who originally triggered talks about a petition to override Gov. John Bel Edwards’ coronavirus restrictions now says “articles of impeachment are being considered due to the governor’s clear violation of the law.”
GOP Rep. Alan Seabaugh of Shreveport, who was elected in October 2010 and sits atop the House seniority chart for consecutive years served, made his (highly unlikely) intentions known in a statement to KTBS-TV anchor Jeff Beimfohr, writes Jeremy Alford in his new opinion piece.
“The executive branch of the government does not have the authority to declare a law unconstitutional, nor does it have the authority to determine which laws it will ignore,” Seabaugh said in his statement. “Laws are presumed to be constitutional until a court determines otherwise. The statute on this issue is very clear and the governor is choosing to ignore it. Therefore he is in violation of the law and subject to the impeachment power of the Legislature.”
Asked for comment, an Edwards spokesperson told Beimfohr, “That does not deserve a response.”
Rep. Tammy Phelps, a Democrat who also represents Shreveport, was also interviewed. She laughed for a couple seconds before responding. “That’s funny,” said Phelps. “This is like the president saying he has already won the election now. Are you serious? On what grounds?”
On the final day of the recent special session exactly last month, 65 House members signed a petition ordering the governor to abandon his coronavirus restrictions. Edwards countered with a lawsuit in the 19th Judicial District, claiming the state law that allows for the petition was unconstitutional because it permitted just one chamber in the two-chamber Legislature to act. The lawsuit also argues the House did not consult with public health officials, as prescribed by state law.
Edwards has since refused to recognize the validity of the petition and Attorney General Jeff Landry has made filings on behalf of House Speaker Clay Schexnayder. Judge William Morvant has set a court date for Nov. 12.
The legal case has already turned political, with Republican leaders around the state asking citizens to contact Morvant by email and phone. House Majority Leader Blake Miguez, a Republican from New Iberia, also appealed to members of the public this week to attend the hearing.