Null and Void

“It is irresponsible to dismiss the health risks and science behind our measures to stop COVID-19."

Kate Brown, Oregon Governor

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The Oregon Supreme Court is upholding Governor Kate Brown's Stay Home Save Lives Order.

Brown issued the following statement following the Oregon Supreme Court’s emergency ruling late Monday, May 18, in the Elkhorn Baptist Church vs. Katherine Brown lawsuit:

“Following swift action by the Oregon Supreme Court, my emergency orders to protect the health and safety of Oregonians will remain in effect statewide while the court hears arguments in this lawsuit.

“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.

“There are no shortcuts for us to return to life as it was before this pandemic. Moving too quickly could return Oregon to the early days of this crisis, when we braced ourselves for hospitals to be overfilled and ventilators in short supply.

“The science remains clear: by physically distancing, wearing face coverings, staying home as much as possible and only gradually reopening our communities we can save lives and keep Oregonians safe.

“We all look forward to visiting our loved ones in nursing homes, sending our children to school, and going to the grocery store without fear of spreading this disease. But the simple fact remains, COVID-19 is here in Oregon, and lives are at stake.”

Previous Chief coverage posted at 1:15 p.m.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown is heading to the state Supreme Court to appeal a Baker County judge's decision striking down her coronavirus restrictions.

Judge Mathew Shirtcliff issued the "null and void" ruling Monday, May 18, saying Brown did not have emergency orders approved by the Oregon Legislature following 28 days, according to the AP.

The lawsuit had been brought by churches who said the social-distancing directives were unconstitutional.

Governor Brown said she was appealing the ruling and issued the following statement concerning 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.”

Statement from Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum on today’s Baker City Circuit Court Ruling:

“Today, Baker City Circuit Court Judge Matthew Shirtcliff issued a ruling in the Elkhorn Baptist Church et al v Katherine Brown case stating that Governor Brown’s emergency ‘Stay at Home, Save Lives’ executive order cannot extend past 28 days. The case was argued by Oregon DOJ attorneys on Thursday, May 14, 2020. My office will immediately appeal (a writ of mandamus) the decision to the Oregon Supreme Court. When the legislature adopted public health emergency statutes, it specifically said that it was not limiting the governor’s authority to deal with large-scale emergencies.

“With all respect, I believe the trial court’s grant of a preliminary injunction is legally incorrect. We will argue that the judge erred in his construction of the relevant statutes and that he abused his discretion in issuing the preliminary injunction. We will also be asking for an immediate stay of his order.

“I urge Oregonians to continue to comply with the measures in place. They are there to protect all of us, and they are working. We are in close contact with the Governor and intend to support, as allowed by law, the critical work she has done, guided by public health experts, to ensure the safety and health of all Oregonians.”

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) released the following statement on today’s Baker County Circuit Court ruling related to the governor’s executive orders:

“Today’s ruling does not negate the need for Oregonians to live with consideration and care for the health of themselves and others. Oregonians have flattened the curve, they have slowed the spread and they have made real sacrifices. We must continue to follow CDC recommended guidelines, but this ruling affirms that checks and balances exist, and the governor must follow the law.

Oregonians have been calling for accountability, and today a Baker County Circuit Court judge provided it. The standard for his injunction was that the plaintiffs are likely to suffer irreparable harm, that the balance of equities tip in the plaintiff’s favor, that an injunction is in the public interest and that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed, based on the merits of their claim.

This ruling will be appealed but the need for the governor to create the least possible harm in the exercise of extraordinary power remains. There has been no accountability throughout this emergency declaration, until now.”

Follow the outcome of this court case here online and in the Friday print editions of The Chief.

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