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UPDATE: The Oregon Supreme Court on Monday night issued a stay of the order from the Baker County Circuit Court judge. The stay keeps the Governor's Executive Orders in effect until the case goes to trial.
Baker County Circuit Court Judge Matt Shirtcliff entered a preliminary injunction against further enforcement of the Governor's Executive Orders relating to business and church closures as to the coronavirus pandemic. The judge refused the State’s request to stay his order. The state has indicated that they will file an immediate appeal to the Supreme Court of Oregon.
"On behalf of all Oregonians, especially those who wish to join in religious worship and those who wish to engage in businesses, I celebrate the judge’s ruling because it upholds Oregon’s laws regarding public health emergencies," said Kevin Mannix, the attorney representing the churches in the case. "The Governor may issue guidelines and she may encourage Oregonians to be safe. She may not close down churches and businesses under pain of criminal misdemeanor charges. The law allows the Governor 28 days of strong powers to address a public health emergency but those 28 days have expired. If the Governor wishes to take steps beyond the law, she must convene the Legislative Assembly – the elected representatives of the people – to consider those proposals."
Mannix continued: "We Oregonians need to remember that each of the 50 states has adopted its own standards for how Governors handle public health emergencies. Many states have laws which are very expansive as to the powers of their Governors and have weak time limits. We Oregonians chose to give our Governor strong powers to deal with a public health emergency, but our laws set a 28 day time limit on the exercise of those powers. Oregon is special in terms of how we handle these issues."
Governor Kate Brown issued the following statement today on the Elkhorn Baptist Church v. Katherine Brown ruling:
“From the beginning of this pandemic, I have taken action to protect the health and safety of all Oregonians. We acted quickly and decisively at the beginning of the outbreak, using the best science and data available, to protect Oregon from COVID-19.
“Today’s ruling from the Baker County Circuit Court will be appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court within hours to keep my emergency orders in effect. 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.
“The science behind these executive orders hasn’t changed one bit. Ongoing physical distancing, staying home as much as possible, and wearing face coverings will save lives across Oregon.
“Together Oregonians have turned the tide on the spread of COVID-19, allowing us to only now begin the process of gradually and safely reopening parts of our communities and our economies. Reopening the state too quickly, and without ongoing physical distancing, will jeopardize public health and cost lives.
“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 friends, families, neighbors, and loved ones from this disease.”