It's unclear whether Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's threat to cut utility service to houses that host parties that violate local coronavirus guidelines would hold up in court, Constitutional law expert John Pavia told Fox Business Network's “Cavuto: Coast to Coast” Thursday.
“They can do it in the short term,” he said. “But ... it takes about two, two and a half years for cases to go from most state lower-level trial courts up to the U.S. Supreme Court. And I think we're going to find out a lot about what states, what the federal government, what cities are allowed to do coming out of this COVID experience that we're having.”
Pavia explained that the federal government and individual states have “competing obligations” between providing utilities and water and keeping the peace and public safety.
“As we're seeing right now, those things can come into conflict,” he said. “And can a mayor by executive order tell the utilities to turn off the water? If someone is breaching the peace, my hunch is they can.”
Pavia went on to say that businesses will have to decide whether it's "worth the risk" contesting fines and court summonses they may accrue as a byproduct of staying open in defiance of state and local coronavirus restrictions.
"I think for ... a merchant who is basically almost going out of business, maybe on the verge of going out of business," he said, "there's no downside for some of these folks to say, 'look, I'm opening up.'"
The ultimate legal question, Pavia suggested, is, "Was there a national crisis? Was there a state or city crisis? And if so, how did that change the powers of the governing authority?
“That is going to be the issue that will eventually make its way through the courts,” he said. “And I think ... we're going to find out that the definitions that we think are in place, or that we're living by, the courts are going to see very differently.”