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It Was a Whiplash Day for Oregon on Virus Restrictions

After judge tosses the restrictions, state's top court halts that decision
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 19, 2020 12:07 AM CDT

(Newser) – The Oregon Supreme Court late Monday halted a rural judge's order earlier in the day that had tossed out statewide coronavirus restrictions imposed by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown. Baker County Circuit Judge Matthew Shirtcliff had ruled that Brown erred by not seeking the Legislature’s approval to extend the stay-at-home orders beyond a 28-day limit. The Supreme Court's ruling stays Shirtcliff's decision pending review by all the high court justices, the AP reports. In a statement, Brown praised the Supreme Court action. “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," she said.

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The lower court judge had issued his opinion in response to a lawsuit filed earlier this month by 10 churches around Oregon that argued the state's social-distancing directives were unconstitutional. In a seven-page opinion, Shirtcliff wrote that the damage to Oregonians and their livelihood was greater than the dangers presented by the coronavirus. He also noted that other businesses deemed essential, such as grocery stores, had been allowed to remain open even with large numbers of people present and have relied on masks, social distancing, and other measures to protect the public. Courts in other states have ruled against similar stay-home orders. (More on those cases, and the Oregon rulings, here.)


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