The Oregon Supreme Court has halted a lower court’s order that had invalidated the statewide restrictions imposed by Gov. Kate Brown to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
A Baker County circuit judge ruled on Monday that the governor’s coronavirus-related restrictions were “null and void,” in response to a lawsuit filed earlier this month by 10 churches across Oregon that argued the state’s social-distancing rules were unconstitutional. Within hours, Brown filed an emergency motion seeking a hold on the judge’s preliminary injunction pending a review by the Oregon Supreme Court.
The state’s high court granted that motion late Monday night.
“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,” Brown said in a statement after the court’s ruling. “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.”
The Oregon Supreme Court is requiring both sides to submit their arguments in the case by Friday. The court did not set a timeframe for when it would decide the issue, according to Portland ABC affiliate KATU.
Brown declared a statewide state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic in early March and has since issued multiple executive orders, including the closure of all schools and nonessential businesses as well as a ban on dine-in service at restaurants and bars.
Earlier this month, the governor extended the order another 60 days until July 6. However, most Oregon counties have gotten the state’s approval to begin relaxing those restrictions last Friday.