- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 26, 2020

A county judge in Oregon refused Tuesday to budge on his decision invalidating Gov. Kate Brown’s pandemic stay-at-home orders, saying that his injunction will remain in place.

“I have elected to stand by my original ruling,” said Baker County Circuit Judge Matthew Shirtcliff in a letter to the Oregon Supreme Court posted by the Oregonian.

“I will not be vacating the May 18 2020 Order Granting Preliminary Injunctive Relief and Denying Motion to Dismiss or taking other action,” he said.

In response to a challenge from Ms. Brown, the state’s high court suspended Judge Shirtcliff’s order last week, asking him to vacate his decision or submit a written defense by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The case now goes back to the state Supreme Court, which must now decide whether to dismiss or uphold the judge’s order. Briefs in the case are due by June 2.

Judge Shirtcliff declared last week the governor’s novel coronavirus emergency orders “null and void,” saying that they exceeded the 28-day legislative time limits for public-health declarations, in response to a lawsuit from 10 churches and 21 residents.

The state Supreme Court suspended his order later that day after the governor’s office argued that her emergency orders were issued under a different law.

Kevin Mannix, attorney for Common Sense for Oregon, which was allowed to intervene on behalf of the plaintiffs, said the ruling means that “this matter remains in play.”

“I am pleased that Judge Shirtcliff chose to stand by his original decision, which I firmly believe is strongly supported by proper analysis of the statutes,” said Mr. Mannix in an online statement.

Ms. Brown warned last week that “reopening the state too quickly, and without ongoing physical distancing, will jeopardize public health and cost lives.”

The state’s stay-at-home order was extended until July 6, although 31 of the 36 counties received exemptions to begin reopening malls, restaurants and other businesses on May 15.

Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, which filed the challenge, argued that the governor violated state law by extending the lockdown on businesses, schools and churches without the legislature’s approval.

“Our PJI attorneys are committed to ending this Governor’s abuse of powers and will be working hard as we prepare to make our case for the businesses and churches so impacted by her tyranny,” he said in a statement.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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