SALEM, OR (AP) — A county judge has declared Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s coronavirus restrictions “null and void” because she didn’t have her emergency orders approved by the Legislature following 28 days. The lawsuit now being heard by the Oregon Supreme Court.
Monday night, in a late night session the Oregon Supreme Court said Governor Brown's stay home orders and emergency declarations will stay in place through lawsuit proceedings and arguments are heard.
Baker County Circuit Judge Matthew Shirtcliff made the ruling Monday in a lawsuit brought churches who had sued saying the social-distancing directives were unconstitutional.
The suit had also argued that emergency powers only last for a month and after that Brown would have needed legislative approval. The judge agreed.
Governor Brown tweeted tonight that she appealed the decisions.
“This will ensure we can continue to safeguard the health of all Oregonians — including frontline health care workers, those living in nursing homes, workers in agriculture and food processing plants, and Oregonians with underlying health conditions –– while the legal process moves forward,” Brown said.
Brown also tweeted she has done all the right proceedings within her authority and did not overstep boundaries.
"From the beginning of this crisis, I have worked within my authority, using science and data as my guide, heeding the advice of medical experts. This strategy has saved lives and protected Oregonians from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic", said Brown.
This lawsuit comes after multiple churches across the state believe her orders were overstepping the line as the state deals with the Coronavirus pandemic.
Ray Hacke, the attorney who represented the plaintiffs in the case, said in a phone interview Monday the ruling invalidates Brown’s ban on churches gathering for worship but also invalidates the entire stay-at-home order, Hacke said.
Common Sense intervened after the Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute filed the case earlier this month on behalf of Oregon businesses, expanding the scope, he said.
“The stay-at-home order is no longer in effect. It is invalidated. If people want to get their haircut, they can. They can leave their home for any reason whether it’s deemed essential in the eye of the state or not,” he said.
He added that the ruling was a vindication not just for freedom of religion, but for all Oregonians’ freedoms.
“Praise God. I’m excited, and I’m glad that the judge saw that there are limitations on the governor’s power, even in the midst of emergencies,” he said.