“Judge rules against Roy Moore’s clients in lawsuit challenging Ivey mask order”

479077450-Judge-denies-request-for-temporary-restraining-order-in-lawsuit-against-mask-order

MONTGOMERY, AL–U.S. District Judge W. Keith Watkins has denied a motion for a  temporary restraining order against Gov. Kay Ivey and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris to block enforcement of their emergency regulations to limit the spread of COVID-19, including the statewide mask order.

Seven people represented by former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore sued Ivey and Harris on Sept. 24 claiming the orders violated their constitutional rights under the First, Fifth, and 14th Amendments.

They asked the court to block Ivey and Harris from enforcing orders “with regard to wearing of masks, unconstitutional regulation of houses of worship, discriminatory closing of businesses, social distancing, assembly, and stay at home orders.”

But in a ruling issued Tuesday, Watkins wrote that temporary restraining orders require “imminent irreparable harm” and are “premised on the need for speedy and urgent action to protect a plaintiff’s rights before a case can be resolved on its merits.” Watkins said the plaintiffs did not act with speed and urgency.
 
Harris first issued orders restricting public gatherings in March, and Ivey and Harris issued the statewide mask order in July. Watkins wrote that the plaintiffs could have challenged the orders as much as five months and at least two months earlier than they did.
 

“Either way, Plaintiffs waited an impermissible amount of time to seek the ‘extraordinary and drastic remedy’ of a temporary retraining order,” Watkins wrote.

Tuesday’s ruling does not end the case. Lawyers representing Ivey and Harris intend to file a motion to dismiss the case. Watkins ordered them to file that by Oct. 20 and ordered the plaintiffs to file their response by Nov. 3.
 
 
Since issuing the mask order as part of a “safer at home” order in July, Ivey and Harris have extended it three times, most recently on Sept. 30. It now extends until Nov. 8.
 
Ivey, Harris, and other officials say the mask order and other restrictions in the “safer at home” order have helped control the spread of the virus, reducing the number of people hospitalized and the percentage of tests that return positive from peaks during the summer.
 
The Alabama Department of Public Health reports that there have been 142,292 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alabama, with 2,454 confirmed deaths.
 

 Source: AL

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