A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by Del. Dan Cox and other plaintiffs alleging Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive orders related to the coronavirus pandemic were unconstitutional.
Judge Catherine Blake of the U.S. District Court of Maryland issued the ruling, stating Cox (R-Frederick and Carroll) and the plaintiffs’ amended complaint did not outweigh the governor’s duty to protect public health.
“Based on the allegations in the plaintiffs’ amended complaint, the court cannot conclude that Governor Hogan’s measures are arbitrary or unreasonable, or that they plainly violate any of the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights,” Blake wrote. “The court therefore must be cautious not to ‘usurp the functions of another branch of government’ deciding how best to protect public health.”
Cox and other plaintiffs had submitted an amended complaint in May, according to court records. Hogan’s office responded with a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in June.
The lawsuit included several pastors and other plaintiffs. It argued that Hogan (R) was violating the individual and constitutional liberties of Marylanders.
“The object has never been to permit a Governor to make a ‘neighbor’s’ rights or interests in health superior to the People’s or even to another citizen’s natural and inalienable rights,” Cox and plaintiffs wrote. “The problem in Maryland is that Governor Hogan has done the reverse, even after being repeatedly petitioned to limit his power.”
But Blake said the amended lawsuit does not show that restrictions, like limits on indoor gatherings or capacity limits on businesses, violate the Constitution.
“The plaintiffs allege in their amended complaint and in their opposition that less restrictive measures are available to Governor Hogan and that it is unequal treatment to designate some businesses—but not theirs—as essential,” she wrote. “But alleging that an order goes too far in protecting public health is not the same as pleading that an order has no real and substantial relation to protecting public health.”
Cox has spent much of the past few weeks working with President Donald Trump’s legal team, disputing election results in Pennsylvania.
He could not be immediately reached for comment by phone Wednesday.