SALEM, OR (KPTV) - Since the beginning of the pandemic, Governor Kate Brown has used her executive authority to put limits on the activities of Oregonians and Oregon businesses, with the stated intention of protecting health and safety, and preventing hospital systems from being overwhelmed.

As weeks of restrictions became months, more people came to criticize those restrictions, with some calling her measures "government overreach."

But despite the pushback, legal challenges to her policies have been largely unsuccessful.

"Governor Brown is relying on the Emergency authority that has been delegated to her by the legislature, that the Supreme Court of Oregon has upheld once already," said Paul Diller, a law professor at Willamette University.

Despite the Governor's broad authority, Diller does believe her policies could be challenged, if not at the state level, then in federal court.

Local law professor talks about Governor Brown's use of emergency powers during pandemic

Image: KPTV

With the recent mandate that businesses check customers' vaccination records before allowing them to remove their masks, Diller sees the potential for legal challenges under the Americans With Disabilities Act or the Civil Rights Act, if plaintiffs can convincingly show they've been discriminated against.

"Her emergency authority cannot override federal law under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution," said Diller.

The state legislature could also vote to limit the Governor's emergency powers.

Recently, lawmakers considered a bipartisan bill that would allow the Governor to extend a state of emergency by a maximum of 30 days, unless the Governor convenes the state legislature and issues a written statement explaining why the state of emergency should be extended.

Marty Wilde, a Democrat who represents House District 11, co-sponsored the bill.

"It wasn't because of anything the Governor did, it was just as we entered the state of emergency, I kind of realized how loosely written our emergency powers rules were," said Wilde. "Just like a court could strike down a Governor's order if it exceeded her authority, we wanted the ability to come back periodically to check again and make sure that things were still going in a way that was agreeable to everyone."

Wilde's bill hasn't yet made it to the House floor for discussion or a vote, but he's confident it will eventually.

In addition to specific legislation, state lawmakers could also vote to overturn the Governor's state of emergency with a simple majority vote.

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