Hill: Holcomb does not have legal authority for mask mandate

Photo Supplied: Indiana Attorney General's Office

INDIANAPOLIS (Network Indiana): Does the governor have the authority to make it a crime to not wear a mask during this pandemic? Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill says “no.”

On Wednesday Governor Eric Holcomb announced he was rolling out a statewide mandate requiring you to wear a facemask in public. It makes it a Class B misdemeanor to be out in public without a mask on.

“Our order will require masks or face coverings for anyone 8 years or older while you are in public, indoor places,” Holcomb said. “While not wearing a mask is a Class B misdemeanor please know that the ‘mask police’ will not be patrolling public streets.”

In an advisory opinion, Hill says the governor lacks the authority to make it a crime to not wear a mask. He said instead of an executive order, Holcomb should have called a special session of the state legislature in order to pass a law.

“The wisdom of wearing masks — or of laws requiring such measures — is not the issue here,” Hill said. “Rather, the issue is whether we are following the proper and constitutional processes for enacting laws and whether we are respecting the distinct roles of each branch of state government.”

Some legal experts argue the state is still under an emergency declaration because of the pandemic, so that gives Holcomb the authority to enact the mandate. State law says a state of emergency in Indiana can only last as long as 30 days unless it is renewed by the governor.

Holcomb has renewed an emergency declaration every month for the last four months since the pandemic started. The current renewal expires on August 3rd.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Regardless of an “emergency declaration” it is unconstitutional. The Constitution does not have the text “unless the State declares an emergency”.

    The Indiana Code has provisions for the Governor to provide additional resources and services to protect the public in an emergency, but NOT infringe on their Constitutional Rights.

    People own their Right to their own personal safety and security, not the State.

    Governor, you can take your order and shove it up your…..

  2. “Some legal experts argue the state is still under an emergency declaration because of the pandemic, so that give Holcomb the authority to enact the mandate. State law says a state of emergency in Indiana can only last as long as 30 days unless it is renewed by the governor.”

    That sounds like the typical Statist argument used to justify Executive overreach. Based on that logic, the governor could declare an emergency declaration every 30 days in perpetuity and do whatever he pleased.
    Do you really think the Constitution is written to allow that?

  3. I wonder how the “Seat belt” law ever passed? Law against “Jay walking”? Our State’s in big trouble with this new mandate.

    • The Seat Belt Law was passed due to an Insurance company lobbyist being able to statistically prove on average seat belts reduce insurance claims/amount. Obviously a seat belt does not contribute to a person operating the vehicle more safely. But driving is a privilege licensed by the State, not a right. So they can do laws like that.

      I’m not sure about Jay walking. Is that even a Law?

      • Yea, I know that the “jaywalking” thing was a stretch. I couldn’t think of anything else. I see and agree with your point on the seatbelt thing too. I still find it difficult not to see this (mask wearing) as something that could help benefit people from getting the virus. However, I don’t want it mandated at the expense of the constitution.

  4. I’m not wearing a mask out side I have to at work and it makes me cough for hour’s later and also never wore a mask in store’s and I have not got sick I am a adult and know how to stay healthy washing hands and no proof mask work. I went to beach 4th of july and did not get sick. STOP lying about the numbers hospital’s are getting money for EVERY positive test FIGHT BACK AMERICAN’S

  5. I am also torn on this issue. I am glad they are getting rid of that POS Hill because he is not one of “us”, but I agree with what he is saying about the legality of the mask mandate. My head wants to explode.

  6. The entire thing is a fiasco! Bad numbers, fake numbers, lies. I mean for sure the virus is real, just like a cold or flu….devastating to certain segments of society but absolutely not worthy of this panic and chaos. What’s the survival rate again? Oh yeah: nearly everyone. The media needs to shut it and the politicians need to get to campaigning because right now I am so ashamed of my country. Oh yeah: Holcomb pull your head out. This will be the end of many businesses. More than 60% will simply not shop if they have to wear a mask.

  7. We have a mask mandate because of 954 cases and 9 deaths. 9 deaths!!! This is complete insanity. What are the odds that many more than 9 non-Covid deaths occurred in the same timeframe??? I’m glad Holcomb must be tired of being Governor. These authoritarians have got to go!

  8. Put another way, this “uptick” in 954 new cases and 9 deaths means approximately a 1% fatality rate and a 99% survival rate. The national death rate, with a few “hot spot” exceptions, shows about a 4% fatality rate on average. As pandemics go, I think we have a pretty good one! What is all the panic about??? The number of cases that the news touts constantly means nothing! It’s a virus! We’re ALL going to get it! Let’s rip the bandaids off and get to herd immunity already! If these genius politicians can’t figure out a way to set up temporary hospital beds to handle this without destroying the economy and our way of life, they don’t deserve to be in charge if anything! Enough!

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