HARTFORD, CT — The Connecticut Supreme Court affirmed the governor’s authority during a pandemic, ruling that the governor is charged with protecting the “health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the state, and that COVID-19 presents an unforeseen and unpredictable pandemic.”
The owner of Casey’s Irish Pub in Milford had challenged Gov. Ned Lamont’s public health and civil preparedness orders during the coronavirus pandemic.
The governor ordered bars and nightclubs closed in March to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus and they have remained closed since.
The four-page Supreme Court ruling Thursday is a brief and a full opinion is expected shortly.
A lawyer for the owner of Casey’s Irish Pub in Milford argued earlier this month that Lamont was “playing God” with emergency authority. The high court disagreed and sided with the trial court.
“The governor contends that the COVID-19 pandemic is a ‘serious disaster’ and that § 28-9 provides the governor with the statutory authority to limit the pub’s operation,” the justices wrote in their preliminary ruling. “The governor also contends that § 28-9 does not violate the separation of powers provision of the Connecticut constitution because it does not impermissibly infringe on the General Assembly’s legislative authority.”
The ruling in the case is sure to influence the arguments being made in a separate case that challenges the state’s requirement that students wear masks in schools.
The attorneys for families who object to mask wearing added Lamont to its lawsuit earlier this month and shifted its argument to say state law giving Lamont emergency authority during the pandemic is unconstitutional.
In March and September, Lamont used the law to declare civil preparedness emergencies in response to the ongoing pandemic. The group argues that the law is unconstitutional and the pandemic does not fit the conditions necessary to invoke it.
The Supreme Court has yet to hear oral arguments in that case.