As governors across the nation move to shift the goalposts once more in an effort to extend lockdowns to slow the spread of coronavirus, several of them are finding their executive orders challenged and, in some cases, even defeated in court.
According to Fox News, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Democratic Governor Tony Evers’ “Safer At Home” order on the grounds that his administration did not have the power to unilaterally impose such restrictions independent of the state legislature. Evers subsequently abandoned his effort to salvage his order after his inability to come to an agreement with Republican lawmakers made it clear that it was a losing battle.
“The Republicans made it very clear they don’t believe a statewide approach is the right way to go at this point in time,” he said on Monday. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense spending a lot of time doing something we know isn’t going to be successful.”
On Monday night, the Oregon Supreme Court temporarily blocked a lower court order that would have invalidated all of the state’s coronavirus-related restrictions. A county circuit judge earlier ruled that Democratic Governor Kate Brown could not extend her “stay-at-home” order past a 28-day limit without cooperation from the legislature. But the state supreme court ruling, however, allowed her order to stay in place until the high court had a chance to fully review the case.
“It is irresponsible to dismiss the health risks and science behind our measures to stop COVID-19,” Brown said of the lower court ruling on Monday. “We would be faced with the prospect of another mass outbreak without the tools that have proven to be effective in protecting our families, neighbors & loved ones from this disease.”
It is irresponsible to dismiss the health risks and science behind our measures to stop COVID-19. We would be faced with the prospect of another mass outbreak without the tools that have proven to be effective in protecting our families, neighbors & loved ones from this disease.
— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) May 18, 2020
Meanwhile, in Illinois, another case is pending before a lower court that seeks to invalidate that state’s coronavirus restrictions imposed by Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker.
Late last month, a judge ruled in favor of a temporary restraining order against Pritzker’s order on behalf of State Rep. Darren Bailey, but the TRO only applies to the lawmaker. On Friday, the court will hear arguments in a case that will attempt to undo Gov. Pritzker’s order altogether, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“It’s insulting. It’s dangerous and people’s safety and health have now been put at risk,” Pritzker said of Bailey’s move. “There may be people who contract coronavirus as a result of what Darren Bailey has done.”
In California, at least a dozen lawsuits have been lobbed at Governor Gavin Newsom, claiming that the state violated the First and Second Amendments in closing down gun shops and religious services.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is also the target of a lawsuit from Republicans in both chambers of the legislature over her bid to extend the state’s draconian lockdown orders.
In Kentucky, protesters have sued officials, including Democratic Governor Andy Beshear, for allegedly violating the First Amendment by banning mass protests.
A group of Ohio gyms has sued Republican Governor Mike DeWine over his reopening order, which excluded them from the list of businesses allowed to resume operations. Shortly thereafter, it was announced that gyms in the state will, in fact, be allowed to reopen.
In the U.S. District Court of Maryland, a lawsuit is pending against Republican Governor Larry Hogan by a group of businesses, some former military members, Republican state lawmakers, and several religious leaders. The initial complaint in the suit argued that the governor “has, respectfully, gone beyond all necessities of the case and continues to invade the domain of Federal authority and our rights secured by the Constitution.”
The suit also accuses Hogan’s aides of refusing to assure that Del. Daniel Cox would not be arrested for speaking at a rally against the governor’s orders, citing prohibitions against large gatherings.
To date, the most successful governor looking to maintain a chokehold on commerce in his state is Pennsylvania’s Democratic Governor Tom Wolf. Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an application asking it to overturn Gov. Wolf’s lockdown order, which the suit claimed was based in “hysteria.”
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