PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Just hours after Baker County Judge Matthew Shirtcliff tossed out Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s statewide coronavirus emergency orders, the Oregon Supreme Court halted that decision.
The back-and-forth between the courts essentially canceled each other out for the time being.
Judge 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 pauses Shirtcliff’s decision pending review by all the high court justices.
Brown claimed she has been using a statute that allows her to issue an emergency order for an unlimited amount of time.
Willamette University law professor Dr. Paul Diller said the Supreme Court’s stay means people in Oregon are, once again, legally obligated to abide by Brown’s emergency order restrictions
“It means it basically suspends the judge’s decision and allows Governor Brown’s executive orders to go into effect,” said Diller. “Right now we are back in the situation we were over the weekend.”
An attorney representing the Elkhorn Baptist Church–one of the 10 churches involved in the suit–argued that the lawsuit does not encourage the public to disobey social distancing guidelines. He said it is about checking the governor’s “super powers” during the pandemic.
“We all need to exercise our own common sense to voluntarily take steps which help protect agains the spread of the coronavirus disease,” said attorney Kevin Mannix in a statement. “This litigation is about the governor acting outside of the time frame in which she is allowed to exercise extraordinary emergency powers.”
Earlier this month, Brown extended the order another 60 days until July 6. All but a handful of Oregon counties, however, got the state’s approval to begin loosening those restrictions last Friday.