One-time gubernatorial candidate files federal lawsuit seeking to end virtual legislative sessions

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Unsuccessful Delaware gubernatorial candidate Julieanne Mrray has filed a lawsuit claiming virtual legislative sessions violate the Delaware and U.S. constitutions.

A release announcing the lawsuit was filed in federal court, according to a release.

Murray’s release noted that a large percentage of Delaware residents do not have Internet access and repeated Republican claims that the Zoom sessions allowed Democrats to control the debate.

“While I cannot assess the merits of the lawsuit, House and Senate Republicans agree with the objective,” said State House Minority Leader Danny Short (R-Seaford). “Earlier this week, we issued a statement urging the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tem to set a hard date for resuming in-person sessions and committee meetings as soon as possible. There are many venues in the Dover area that could accommodate such gatherings, while giving us sufficient space to observe CDC guidelines for social distancing, mask-wearing, and other science-based protocols proven effective at preventing the spread of the virus. Tangible meetings would not replace our virtual presence, which should be maintained. If hundreds of people can safely patronize the unstructured environment of a big box store, we should be able to safely conduct public floor debates and committee meetings in a controlled, secured, and monitored setting.”

Democrats responded by noting that virtual hearings had a strong turnout that was greater than in-person hearings that are typically during work hours and usually did not come with online access.

States where Republicans form the majority in legislatures often insisted on in-person sessions.

In the case of Pennsylvania Democrats were upset when a Republican legislator tested positive and did not initially inform colleagues.

Murray is a Seaford attorney and a vocal critic of the state’s emergency orders. She lost to Gov. John Carney by a sizable margin.

Republicans have few legislative options in halting remote sessions, since Democrats in Delaware control all statewide offices and hold solid majorities in both houses.

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