INDIANAPOLIS – The rivalry between Attorney General Curtis Hill and Gov. Eric Holcomb expanded on Wednesday, July 22, when Hill announced his opposition to the way Holcomb introduced a new statewide mask mandate.
Hours after Holcomb announced the mandate, which begins Monday, Hill released an opinion saying it’s not constitutional.
Hill issued an advisory opinion directing Holcomb to call a special legislative session to consider a statewide mask mandate rather than issuing an executive order to that effect.
“The wisdom of wearing masks — or of laws requiring such measures — is not the issue here. 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,” Hill said in a prepared statement.
Executive orders have an important and legitimate function during times of emergency, Attorney General Hill added.
“But by this point in the pandemic — more than four months since the emergency declaration — it’s time to show some deference to the branch of government actually charged by our state constitution with the responsibility for enacting laws,” Hill said.
The governor announced Wednesday afternoon that he would sign an executive order requiring masks to be worn statewide during specific times and in specific places starting July 27 and that failure to follow the order would be a Class B misdemeanor offense. The Office of the Attorney General received several inquiries from legislators and constituents regarding the proposed order.
Hill is serving in his first term, but was not nominated by Republicans for a second term after he was heavily criticized for allegedly groping women at a 2018 gathering.
Holcomb had called on Hill to resign after allegations surfaced.
Hill’s law license was suspended earlier this year by the Indiana Supreme Court.
Republican delegates chose to nominate Todd Rokita for attorney general for the fall election.