Judge Overturns Oregon Gov Kate Brown’s Order Closing Churches, Leaving Abortion Clinics Open

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 18, 2020   |   5:51PM   |   Salem, Oregon

A judge has overturned an order from Democrat Gov. Kate brown that essentially closes churches wile leaving abortion centers open to kill babies.

An Oregon judge ruled today that Gov. Kate Brown’s pandemic-related executive orders exceeded her authority. The case was filed by numerous churches and people of faith who were represented by the Pacific Justice Institute.

The orders resulted in church, business, and school closings and required the citizens in Oregon to remain under virtual house arrest. The Oregon law gives the Governor broad authority in emergency situations; however, that authority is of limited duration. The Governor did not go to the legislature to seek additional time as required by law.

Circuit Judge Matthew B. Shirtcliff granted a preliminary injunction to 10 churches that had sued, finding they had shown “irreparable harm” from the deprivation of the right to freely exercise their religions.

“The governor’s orders are not required for public safety when plaintiffs can continue to utilize social distancing and safety protocols at larger gatherings involving spiritual worship,” he ruled.

Ultimately he ruled churches can use the same social distancing measures as other businesses allowed to remain open.

“Plaintiffs have shown that they will be harmed by deprivation of the constitutional right to freely exercise their religion. Other plaintiffs have also shown great economic harm to their businesses and their ability to seek livelihood,” the judge said.

Brad Dacus, President of PJI, stated, “We are thrilled with this decision in Oregon and believe it upholds the rule of law by requiring the Governor to comply with clear limitation placed in the statutes.” Attorneys for the Governor are now vowing to appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court. “Pacific Justice Institute is committed to seeing this case all the way through to its final conclusion,” Dacus said.

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Ray Hacke, PJI’s Oregon-based staff attorney who argued the case on behalf of churches filing suit, commented, “Even in emergencies, there are limitations on the Governor’s power. The Governor exceeded those limitations and the Court rightly recognized that.”

In his opinion Judge Matthew Shirtcliff found that without a restraining order churches will experience irreparable harm to their right to the free exercise of religion.

Less than three hours later, the governor’s office appealed to the state Supreme Court to keep her emergency orders in effect.

Attorney Kevin Mannix of Salem represented businesses who intervened in the case. Mannix also presented oral arguments to the Court.