Fasano Seeks Attorney General Opinion on Constitutionality of Police Bill

July 25, 2020

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) wrote to Attorney General William Tong on Friday seeking a legal opinion on the constitutionality of House Bill 6004, An Act Concerning Police Accountability. Sen. Fasano raised concerns about the language contained in the bill related to the creation of the Office of the Inspector General.

“The creation of an Office of the Inspector General has strong bipartisan support and is a proposal Republicans have suggested and advocated for. I understand the proponents of this bill had the best intentions in developing this section, however the language ultimately included in the bill related to the creation of the Inspector General was rushed and contains elements that conflict with the state Constitution,” said Sen. Fasano. “This is what happens when legislation is rushed and written to garner votes, not to be sound policy. These unconstitutional elements could put provisions of the bill at risk for legal challenges and being invalidated.

“On Friday I asked Attorney General Tong to immediately review the legislation and provide the legislature with an opinion on the potential issues. With a vote scheduled in the Senate for Tuesday, it is the Attorney General’s duty to our state and its residents to provide an opinion before that debate and vote occurs so legislators have a full legal understanding of the potential issues and risks the bill opens the state up to. The unconstitutionality of one section has the potential to call provisions of the bill into question in the future.”

Read Sen. Fasano’s letter detailing three questions of constitutionality. The questions involve the constitutional requirement that prosecutorial power only lies with state’s attorneys, the amount of power given to the legislature to appoint someone to the position, and the ability of the state to appoint someone who is not currently a state’s attorney employed by the Department of Criminal Justice.