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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: 397421

Reported Deaths: 5299
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah61160856
Washington42725408
Marion40378520
Clackamas33323391
Lane30531364
Jackson25267363
Deschutes24034198
Umatilla15178184
Linn15004184
Douglas13635295
Josephine10388249
Yamhill9916145
Klamath9144153
Polk8384103
Benton624440
Malheur594093
Coos5854109
Columbia442156
Jefferson427268
Lincoln369155
Crook345558
Union341857
Wasco320747
Clatsop265835
Baker223133
Tillamook220646
Hood River218637
Morrow198925
Curry194639
Harney121933
Grant109216
Lake106418
Wallowa76513
Sherman1953
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1161
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5128725

Reported Deaths: 74953
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles153845127262
San Diego4104514351
Riverside3912955388
San Bernardino3784085998
Orange3370455783
Sacramento1699162462
Kern1590231841
Fresno1581872284
Santa Clara1536961933
Alameda1262241514
San Joaquin1084911837
Ventura1049251194
Contra Costa1046451058
Stanislaus923321436
Tulare869791102
San Francisco57458674
San Mateo56861631
Monterey52973626
Solano48014360
Santa Barbara47846555
Merced45506672
Sonoma43609414
Placer42736473
Imperial39148778
Kings35547369
San Luis Obispo31803360
Madera26511315
Shasta26353465
Butte25690320
Santa Cruz22540224
Yolo21792263
Marin18728249
El Dorado18544168
Sutter14691186
Napa13501107
Yuba1084791
Humboldt10360119
Tehama10329133
Nevada10187105
Mendocino873799
Lassen801259
San Benito793980
Tuolumne782691
Lake7073113
Amador583267
Siskiyou480757
Glenn460336
Calaveras449988
Del Norte380442
Colusa329821
Inyo259446
Plumas19679
Mono19274
Mariposa163818
Trinity102117
Modoc7956
Unassigned3820
Sierra2210
Alpine1080
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