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Churches and individuals sue Gov. Brown, arguing executive orders are unconstitutional

More than 10 Oregon churches, multiple individuals and businesses are joining in a lawsuit that is suing Governor Kate Brown over the “Stay home, save lives” executive orders.

Posted: May 13, 2020 6:28 PM
Updated: Oct 1, 2020 10:17 AM

More than 10 Oregon churches, multiple individuals and businesses are joining in a lawsuit that is suing Governor Kate Brown over the “Stay home, save lives” executive orders.

The lawsuit was filed last week and has a hearing scheduled for May 14th at 8:00AM at the Circuit Court of Baker County.

Plaintiff’s in the case, represented by Pacific Justice Institute’s Ray Hacke, want to see the current executive orders declared invalid.

The lawsuit states that Governor Brown did not follow procedures, set by the Oregon constitution, when enacting the “Stay home, save lives” executive order.

“She has 30 days to try to deal with the emergency and she has fairly broad power during that time but before the 30 days is up, if she needs additional time, she has to go to the legislature and ask for three-fifths approval of each house,” said Hacke, the prosecution’s lead attorney, “she did not do that here.”

In tomorrows hearing, the prosecution will be seeking a preliminary injunction, if granted, it would stop the state from enforcing the Governor’s orders and declare them invalid between now and the trial.

Another issue argued in the lawsuit addresses the fact that the current executive order threatens fines and/or jail time for failing to comply.

“These churches don’t want to live in fear of violating the law, they don’t want their congregants to live in fear of violating the law,” said Hacke, “A lot of churches share Governor Brown’s concerns about public health and safety, they don’t want to endanger anybody in their congregation, they certainly don’t want to endanger anybody in the community.”

The lawsuit is hoping to enable churches and businesses to reopen immediately.

“The thing is, churches aren’t cookie-cutter,” said Hacke, “some of their buildings are larger than others, they all have different layouts; basically, a one size fits all order doesn’t really take that into account.”

However, if churches reopen and someone in their congregation gets COVID-19, the church could be held civilly liable, according to Hacke.

“Churches have to decide for themselves if it’s worth the risk,” said Hacke, “we’re not trying to force churches to open across the state, basically we’re saying we want the choice.”

New Horizon Christian Fellowship is one of the many churches that is a plaintiff in the case. When asked about their concern for their congregation the lead pastor, Mike Voight said they would take precautions if they were allowed to reopen.

“We have a huge outdoor worship area. That will probably be our first area we would set up tables for families, they would be able to be distanced,” said Voight.

“Common Sense for Oregon” has filed a motion to intervene on the case and joined in the lawsuit.

“Common sense for Oregon is going to bat on behalf of businesses,” said Hacke, “a wide variety of businesses have been impacted by this in different ways, they want to re-open too.”

Pacific Justice Institute is not seeking any damages on behalf of the plaintiffs.

“The ultimate issue here is whether the governor is following the constitution of the state of Oregon. This is a document that is a basis for all laws of the state; she swore to uphold it. If she can ignore it in these circumstances, if she can ignore procedures prescribed precisely for emergencies such as this, there’s nothing stopping her from the rest of the constitution,” said Hacke.

In a conversation with NewsWatch 12, Governor Brown’s Chief of Staff, Nik Blosser said he couldn’t say much about the lawsuit since it’s currently underway but he did say one of the biggest challenges is the fact that the virus spreads most rapidly where people congregate.

“We just really want to keep people safe, that the primary focus and we’re trying to put out guidelines that support that,” said Blosser.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 132412

Reported Deaths: 1799
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah28237458
Washington18512171
Marion16085238
Clackamas11577138
Lane8219108
Jackson686284
Umatilla670968
Deschutes490736
Yamhill316245
Malheur312452
Linn310246
Klamath242238
Polk241340
Josephine170633
Jefferson168725
Benton168414
Douglas166643
Union110416
Wasco106323
Columbia103318
Lincoln98517
Hood River94821
Coos93315
Morrow92710
Clatsop6695
Crook60410
Baker5665
Tillamook3622
Curry3185
Lake2295
Grant2131
Harney1734
Wallowa963
Gilliam481
Sherman470
Wheeler201
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2955323

Reported Deaths: 33342
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles100392313741
San Bernardino2482851560
Riverside2352352517
San Diego2098972065
Orange2093652320
Santa Clara914661060
Kern83547558
Sacramento802791080
Fresno79950932
Alameda65679757
Ventura59061412
San Joaquin56484748
Contra Costa50627430
Stanislaus41925739
Tulare40176501
Monterey34959249
San Mateo31291294
San Francisco28574254
Imperial24944463
Solano24654105
Santa Barbara23538228
Merced23492296
Sonoma23204234
Kings18661110
Placer16761173
San Luis Obispo15129128
Madera12883130
Santa Cruz11776113
Marin11345153
Yolo10240131
Shasta9594117
Butte9233121
El Dorado751544
Sutter748477
Napa723139
Lassen509413
San Benito485043
Yuba481827
Tehama397142
Tuolumne330438
Nevada309973
Mendocino307631
Amador295329
Lake243428
Humboldt226324
Glenn182419
Colusa16919
Calaveras153823
Siskiyou140813
Mono10834
Inyo92429
Del Norte8472
Plumas5735
Modoc3783
Mariposa3434
Trinity3024
Alpine730
Sierra700
Unassigned00
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