In one of the latest federal lawsuits to be filed against the governor of a state, a group of plainiffs including pastors, Republican state delegates, and former military members have alleged that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has gone too far with pandemic executive orders which they say have improperly restricted their constitutional rights. Unfortunately, in one instance, they blamed the wrong governor — Virginia’s Gov. Ralph Northam (D) — for causing irreparable harm in Maryland.
Northam has himself been sued over his executive orders, especially regarding restrictions on in-person worship. It seems that the lawsuit filed in a Maryland district court was both aware of and modeled after the Virginia litigation. One legal observer speculated that what happened was a “cut-paste artifact.”
Finally got done reading the lawsuit itself, which is just *amazingly* bad. Can't quite believe this was filed by a state delegate representing my own district, and joined by three other delegates. https://t.co/biK3jEgB9u
— Walter Olson (@WalterOlsonMd) May 4, 2020
As you can see, one of the headings alleges that “Governor Northam’s gathering orders” caused irreparable harm to Antietam Battlefield KOA, Adventure Park USA, LLC, SSG Jason Anderson, USA (ret.), LCpl Christopher Repogle, USMC, Rev. Christoper Ogne, Rev. James Wickham, Rev. Fredrick Caudle, Rev. Paul Goodwin, Rev. John Seay, Rev. Gary Pomrenke, Rev. Gary Cox, Rev. Steven Dixon, Rev. Johnny Hudson, Deacon David Serenda, Del. Warren Miller (R), Del. Dan Cox (R), Del. Neil Parrott (R), and Reopen Maryland, LLC.
Despite the heading, Hogan was blamed in the following paragraphs for prohibiting the plaintiffs from “engaging in their constitutionally and statutorily protected rights of free exercise, assembly, and speech.”
“As a result of Governor Hogan’s Orders, Plaintiffs have suffered and are suffering irreparable injury by the infringement of their constitutionally protected right to be free from government hostility toward religion, and have been forced to self-censor, cease religious worship services, and violate their sincerely held religious beliefs,” the lawsuit said.
The general allegations section was introduced by quotes from Winston Churchill and second-century saint Justin Martyr.
The lawsuit, which was filed on Saturday, accused Hogan of violating the First Amendment in multiple ways and of violating Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection (which applies the First Amendment to the states). The plaintiff sought a temporary restraining order preventing the enforcement of penalties against pastors and congregants who gather in groups of more than ten on Sunday.
The lawsuit sought preliminary and permanent injunctions — and a declaratory judgment smacking down Hogan’s orders as unconstitutional.
[Image via Zach Gibson/Getty Images]
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