The plaintiffs include a Frederick County Delegate.
Frederick, Md (KM) Oral arguments could be presented next week in US District Court in Baltimore in a lawsuit filed against Governor Larry Hogan. Frederick County Delegate Dan Cox is one of 17 plaintiffs in the suit
Cox and the other plaintiffs take issue with the Governor’s decision to order all Marylanders to stay-at-home as a way to help slow the spread of COVID-19, unless they’re heading out for essential jobs or to purchase food, medicine or other necessities. He calls an overreach of state law and the US Constitution.
Cox, whose also an attorney, is basing his arguments on the conclusions of a ruling from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati,Ohio, in a similar case. Quoting from the decision, he says “Restrictions are inexplicably applied to one group and exempted to another do little to further the goals of the state and do much to burden religious freedom.”
Part of his case also argues against the Governor designating which businesses can remain open and which can close during this coronavirus pandemic. “Why can someone walk safely down a grocery store aisle but not sit in a pew. And why can someone interact with a brave delivery woman, but not another individual,” he asks.
The Governor also said there should social distancing to help stop the spread of the virus, and people should remain at least six-feet apart from each other.
Cox and his fellow plaintiffs have said that prohibiting large gatherings inside of churches violates freedom of religion. But many churches have provided on line services during this crisis. Cox says that’s not enough. “To do it virtually is okay for a time and to make sure people are safe,” he says. “But once we’ve moved into an area where we can properly social distance and protect one another just as much as we can in a Wal Mart, then there’s no rational reason to prevent that from taking place.”
He does acknowledge the Governor has a right to declare a state of emergency, and that usually happens during a blizzard, hurricane or other weather event. Cox also says the State’s Chief Executive can order someone to go into quarantine, but not indefinitely. “The Governor has to require written notice that they can review their quarantine in a court of law, and also have their own doctor check and see if they actually are sick,”: says Cox. “If you test negative, for instance, then you have to be let out of quarantine. That’s not been the case.”
He calls it a lock-down order without due process
Cox says a US District Court Judge is scheduled to have a session with the plaintiffs and defendants in this case on Monday. “I think there’s a little bit of a potential for her to reschedule that because opposing counsel that the Governor may need additional time for what’s called a reply. So we’re waiting on that information,” Cox says.
If it does take place on Monday, May 18th, Delegate Cox says the proceedings could be streamed live over the Zoom platform.
By Kevin McManus