A federal judge in Baltimore is considering a request by Gov. Larry Hogan and other state officials to dismiss a lawsuit that claims the governor’s executive orders were overreaching of Maryland and the United States’ constitutions.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake received the motion from Attorney General Brian Frosh Friday to dismiss the suit filed by Del. Dan Cox (R-Frederick and Carroll) and others.
Frosh and others argued in their motion that the state’s “paramount interest” in protecting lives during the coronavirus pandemic justifies Hogan’s executive orders.
“Theirs is not a targeted complaint, seeking to adjust one aspect of the Governor’s emergency orders,” Frosh and others wrote. “It is instead a wholesale denial of every aspect of those orders, the emergency proclamation on which they are based, and even the factual premise that the COVID-19 pandemic presents a significant risk to Maryland public health ... If ever there were a case asking a federal court to usurp a State’s emergency powers, this is it.”
Cox and others also argued in the initial lawsuit that the delegate’s First Amendment rights were violated because he was unable to attend a protest against the governor’s orders at Francis Scott Key Mall in Frederick earlier this month.
Frosh and others argued in their 54-page motion to dismiss that there were several alternatives for to protest the orders.
“To the extent the Order incidentally burdens speech, it seeks to minimize those burdens through interpretive guidance, enforcement protocols, and a published plan for lifting the restrictions as soon as publicly available metrics are achieved that demonstrate a decreased risk of transmission,” the motion reads.
Cox said in a statement on Facebook Saturday he disagreed with Frosh’s motion.
“It should be clear to all Marylanders, who are also Americans with due process rights, that the Governor in his response believes he has total governmental power during any time he deems an emergency, without checks and balances from the [state] Legislature or the Courts,” Cox wrote.
“He actually believes his authority alone can decide when we leave our homes, feed and educate our children, obtain healthcare, work in business or worship God the way we see fit,” he added.
Cox wrote he is working with a “growing legal team” and will soon file a response to Frosh’s motion to dismiss.
This story has been updated.
A version of this story that was published online Saturday inaccurately reported that U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake dismissed Del. Dan Cox and others’ lawsuit. Blake hasn’t yet ruled on the matter.