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Lawsuits & Litigation

Colorado Supreme Court Won’t Hear Republican Leaders’ Anti-Masking Lawsuit

— August 30, 2020

Both Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and his political opponents are claiming the ruling is in their favor.

A Colorado court will not take up an anti-masking lawsuit filed by two Republicans against state Gov. Jared Polis.

According to The Denver Post, the complaint was filed by Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, of Castle Rock, and conservative activist Michelle Malkin. In their lawsuit, the two claimed that the Colorado Disaster Emergency Act—which provides the state governor with expanded powers during times of emergency—is unconstitutional.

Similar to Republicans in other parts of the country, Neville and Malkin asserted that many of Polis’s executive orders are invalid, because they exercise authority normally delegated to state legislatures.

Among the orders criticized in their lawsuits, says the Post, was Polis’s July 16th directive that all Colorado residents wear masks in public places.

In a grammatically confusing statement made earlier this week, Neville saic the governor’s powers are nigh monarchical–and incompatible with American democracy.

“We are a representative republic in the state of Colorado,” Neville said in a statement. “We are not a monarchy. We do not have a King Polis, but that’s the decision he’s actually taking. He’s made these positions by one person.”

In filing their complaint, Neville and Malkin cited a recent decision by the state Supreme Court.

An illustration of the novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), responsible for COVID-19. Image by CDC, via
An illustration of the novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), responsible for COVID-19. Image by CDC, via

There, the justices had invalidated another of Polis’s executive orders, which erased signature-gathering requirements for ballot initiatives for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. In their decision, the court said that the Colorado Disaster Emergency Act does not permit the state’s chief executive to very broadly alter voting procedures.

“The essence of Petitioners’ Complaint is that the chief executive by executive order is purportedly making new laws and implementing new public policies which wholly usurp the power of the legislative department to make the laws, a power which has been delegated by the People through their Colorado Constitution exclusively to the legislative department,” the lawsuit stated.

But Neville and Malkin were unable to win any concession from the Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case.

An attorney for Rep. Neville, writes Fox31-2News, implied that the justices’ decision should not be taken as a reflection of the lawsuit’s merit, or lack thereof.

“The fast ruling on these complex issues is disappointing but not really a surprise,” Neville’s attorney said in a statement. “Our Supreme court accepts very few direct petitions each session. Our primary exhibit with the Petition was a District Court state complaint that we prepared and intended to file in the event of this outcome.

“Stay tuned,” he added.

However, Gov. Polis was quick to claim victory, saying the justices’ are looking out for Coloradans’ health.

“Mask wearing is a proven way to slow the spread of this deadly virus, will help keep businesses open, save lives, and keep the economy growing,” Polis said. “I’m glad the Supreme Court stands with the people of Colorado in our fight against the deadly virus, in which mask-wearing is one of our most effective weapons.”


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