Federal judge tells plaintiffs their First Amendment arguments have no chance. When even I know the answer before the case is adjudicated, it seems a lot like lawyers collecting fees from gullible plaintiffs.
US District Judge Michael J. McShane puts the hammer down:
A federal judge Tuesday denied an emergency injunction for a coalition of nine businesses and one nonprofit who last week sued Oregonâ€™s governor, alleging her emergency stay-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic violated their constitutional rights and were politically motivated.
U.S. District Judge Michael J. McShane found the plaintiffs were unlikely to succeed on their federal constitutional claims, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court “has distinctly recognized the authority of a state to enact quarantine law and health law of every description.”Federal judge denies injunction for businesses who sued Oregonâ€™s governor over emergency coronavirus orders, OregonLive.com, 19 May 2020.
To be fair, I have a degree in Communications, and I did very well in Communications Law which is, as you might expect, mostly about the First Amendment. But I don’t have a JD, and if even a yokel like me knows there is no First Amendment grounds for success in federal court, you can be sure that the attorneys in this case did too.
McShane issued his ruling without holding oral argument and before the state even responded to the suitâ€™s allegations.
Nice of the judge not to flat out call the plaintiffs idiots, but in a legal sense this is pretty close. Effectively he said, “I don’t even need to hear evidence. Case dismissed.”
The cynical take is that the attorneys are just cashing a check for service rendered even though there’s no realistic chance at victory in court. But then we find that the lead attorney for the plaintiffs is also the head of the Multnomah County GOP. So there’s a non-zero chance that ignorance not avarice really is what’s going on.
Still, the legal basis for Judge McShane’s ruling, Jacobsen v. the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, has been settled case law since 1905. It’s not like some new profound legal theory reared its head.
Anyway, the case against Gov. Brown’s emergency orders will be heard by the Oregon Supreme Court on Friday. The issue there appears to be whether the governor is allowed to determine which part of state law she declared the state of emergency under. If she determines it, her orders are valid. If she is not able to determine it, then the orders would have expired after a 28-day period. We’ll know more soon. We knew the federal side of this already.