Lawsuits ramp up against governors imposing restrictive lockdown orders

Many governors facing opposition from their constituents are Democrats, but several Republicans are being sued as well.

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Governor Gavin Newsom
Governor Gavin Newsom
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
Updated: May 18, 2020 - 10:24pm

As the global coronavirus pandemic continues, stay-at-home orders across the nation are facing legal challenges from fed-up residents and state officials, who allege the restrictions go too far.

California is facing several dozen lawsuits, alleging that the state has infringed on freedoms of speech and assembly, unlawfully closed down gun shops and religious gatherings, and forced detention on state residents without due process.

Gov. Gavin Newsom told CNN that his order are “being challenged,” as are the orders of governors across the country, who must now implement a “spirit of collaboration” to enforce sanctions.

Last week, Tesla’s Elon Musk declared that his Bay Area factory would opened against the orders of the local government. Newsom’s “spirit of collaboration” comment refers to the last-minute negotiations that Alameda County entered with Tesla to manage the safety regulations of the factory’s reopening.

Also suing state lawmakers over First Amendment violations are citizens of Kentucky, who are claiming that Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear is unlawfully banning mass protests. Beshear’s ban on in-person church services was recently blocked by a federal judge.

Gov. Janet Mills, of Maine, faced a similar lawsuit brought by the Calvary Church of Orrington, that sought to allow the church to hold in-person socially distanced services. A federal judge denied the church's motion for a temporary restraining order.

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan is facing a lawsuit from Republicans in her state Senate, who say that the extension of her shutdown emergency order is unlawful. The\ GOP lawmakers are claiming that she overstepped her constitutional authority by extending the shutdown without the legislature’s permission.

Whitmer, who, at the beginning of the shutdown, was rumored to be a frontrunner for Democrat Joe Biden’s vice presidential slot, is experiencing significant pushback in her home state. On multiple occasions, armed protestors have swarmed the state Capitol to protest her strict emergency orders, which have limited residents’ ability travel between in-state locations.

The Supreme Court of Wisconsin struck down Gov.Tony Evers’ safer-at-home order, saying that it was unlawful for the Democrat to extend the order through the end of May without the legislature’s approval.

The Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a warning to the cities of Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas that they must scale back their pandemic rules, which are currently stricter than the ones being enforced in the rest of the state.

Some Republican lawmakers have also had their statewide orders challenged. Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland is being sued by business and religious leaders, and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine initially faced a lawsuit brought by gym owners who are petitioning their exclusion from his order that allows businesses to open. Gyms in Ohio will now be allowed to open.

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