Oregon restrictions continue despite county judge ruling
Friday, May 22, 2020
The Oregon Supreme Court has ruled that Gov. Kate Brown’s statewide stay-at-home orders, which are gradually being loosened, will remain in place for now, pending appeal of a lower court decision that struck them down on Monday, the Associated Press reported.
“There are no shortcuts for us to return to life as it was before this pandemic,” Gov. Brown said in response to the rulings. “Moving too quickly could return Oregon to the early days of this crisis, when we braced ourselves for hospitals to be overfilled.”
Oregon is in the midst of a phased reopening, as each county creates plans and applies to the state for approval to reopen based on certain criteria. Brown issued a “stay home, save lives” order March 28, followed by announcement of the reopening plan on May 7. Under that, all counties except for five were allowed to proceed to a Phase I reopening as of last Friday. Marion and Polk counties will reopen Friday, Clackamas County’s application is pending, and Multnomah and Washington counties have not applied.
But a ruling by Baker County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Shirtcliff, if upheld, would bring all of that to a halt and lift all restrictions immediately.
Shirtcliff’s ruling came after a group of 10 Oregon churches filed suit, claiming the governor’s executive orders were unconstitutional. Oregon has two emergency statutes — one has an unlimited length on executive orders, and one only enforces them for 14 days — that require separate implementation processes. Judge Shirtcliff ruled that Gov. Brown’s orders were out of compliance with one of the statutes, and therefore invalid.