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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

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.

Confirmed Cases: 32994

Reported Deaths: 547
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah7204138
Marion469594
Washington454060
Umatilla298741
Clackamas242061
Malheur163327
Lane123417
Jackson11615
Deschutes85212
Yamhill76213
Jefferson5418
Polk53215
Linn52213
Morrow5056
Lincoln48213
Union4462
Benton3146
Wasco2963
Klamath2802
Hood River2520
Douglas2334
Clatsop2170
Josephine1982
Columbia1791
Coos1570
Baker942
Crook621
Tillamook530
Lake330
Curry310
Wallowa311
Sherman180
Harney120
Grant100
Gilliam80
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 812711

Reported Deaths: 15633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2684556515
Riverside589321206
San Bernardino54482925
Orange534481216
San Diego46734776
Kern31994369
Fresno28441382
Sacramento22356406
Santa Clara21241314
Alameda21240406
San Joaquin20245441
Contra Costa16640206
Stanislaus16471356
Tulare15970263
Ventura12775150
Imperial11852317
San Francisco11195101
Monterey995372
San Mateo9897150
Santa Barbara9090113
Merced8872142
Kings765180
Sonoma7412122
Marin6730118
Solano640065
Madera453965
Placer358745
San Luis Obispo356229
Butte283344
Yolo281555
Santa Cruz23609
Sutter170511
Napa169013
San Benito134811
Yuba11537
El Dorado11304
Mendocino93418
Shasta88317
Lassen7400
Glenn5783
Tehama5735
Lake55511
Nevada5377
Colusa5316
Humboldt5088
Calaveras31714
Amador29616
Tuolumne2274
Inyo18815
Mono1662
Siskiyou1650
Del Norte1391
Mariposa752
Plumas500
Modoc270
Trinity160
Sierra60
Alpine20
Unassigned00
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