Norfolk rep endorses suit against ‘King Baker’ over ‘slippery slope’ of government overreach during coronavirus pandemic

A Norfolk state representative says he supports a lawsuit against what he calls Gov. Charlie Baker’s “overreach” in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Rep. Shawn Dooley, R-Norfolk, said his comments are “not necessarily attacking the quarantine, the restrictions, or even the fines,” but rather the way the governor — or “King Baker” as the representative calls him — has approached their implementation.

 

“I was criticizing the Governor for his overreach of power and bypassing the legislature and due process with his orders, fines, and special police force as opposed to the handling of the crisis in general,” Dooley wrote in a Tuesday Facebook post.

 

Baker’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday afternoon, but the governor has repeatedly said he has the authority to use his executive authority amid the current public health emergency to restrict activity.

 

After last week threatening to sue the Baker administration, Dooley on Wednesday said he no longer plans to file his own lawsuit and would instead file an amicus brief to an existing suit scheduled for arguments in September.

 

That lawsuit, already weaving its way through the Supreme Judicial Court, was filed by the New Civil Liberties Alliance in June and challenges whether Baker had the lawful authority to execute many of his pandemic-era emergency orders — including those shuttering businesses and requiring face coverings.

 

It argues Baker overstepped his authority and questions his use of the Civil Defense Act to declare a state of emergency.

 

If the suit is successful, it would invalidate many of the orders Baker has created to address the coronavirus outbreak, some of which have triggered a backlash from the hard-hit small business community.

 

The determination in the suit could serve as precedent for a number of other cases filed in the days since Baker declared a state of emergency.

 

Reached by phone on Thursday, Dooley said, “I believe in the rule of law and I believe we have checks and balances for a reason.

 

“I don’t believe one person should have this level of authority — especially since it’s not truly an emergency at this point,” Dooley told the Herald.

 

In his post, Dooley said “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” and called Baker out for bypassing the Legislature and not following proper government process to enact new laws.

 

“I know in my heart of hearts that once we start surrendering our basic liberties and allow one man to make law on his own without due process, testimony, debate, or any other safeguard that makes our democratic republic so special — it is a slippery slope,” Dooley wrote.

 

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