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The Indiana Supreme Court on Friday threw out a law that gave state legislators increased power to intervene during public health emergencies, agreeing with arguments from Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb that the move violated the state constitution.

The court’s unanimous decision settles a legal fight that began more than a year ago when Holcomb sued over a law that was a response to his efforts to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new law gave legislative leaders authority to call the General Assembly into an “emergency session” if the governor declares a statewide emergency. The GOP-dominated Legislature approved it over Holcomb’s veto.

Holcomb’s lawyers contended that the state constitution allows only the governor to call the Legislature into meetings for consideration of new laws outside of its annual sessions that begin in early January and adjourn by the end of April.

Chief Justice Loretta Rush agreed, writing for the five-justice court that Holcomb’s attorneys had “satisfied the high burden required to establish that the law is unconstitutional.”

“Under our Constitution, the General Assembly simply cannot do what the challenged law permits absent a constitutional amendment,” Rush added.

Holcomb said in a statement that the battle over the law had raised “important procedural, statutory and Constitutional questions that only the courts could answer.”

“Today, the Indiana Supreme Court has provided clarity and finality on these important issues,” he said.

The high court’s ruling came after a Marion County judge sided with the Legislature in October.

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