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State Lawmakers Sue Governor Over Emergency Orders

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

 A group of state lawmakers, businesses and religious leaders has filed a lawsuit challenging several of Gov. Larry Hogan’s emergency executive orders, including the one requiring residents only leave their homes for “essential” reasons.


The lawsuit argues that the governor overstepped his authority by quarantining healthy people inside their homes alongside the sick and closing non-essential businesses. 


Dan Cox, a Republican who represents parts of Carroll and Frederick Counties in the House of Delegates, planned to speak at a rally last weekend protesting the governor’s orders, but he was warned that he could be arrested for violating the order limiting the size of gatherings.


So he sued.


“I have an absolute right to speak in my district, just as the governor does, and just as anyone does,” Cox said. “Any average person can speak in their district on issues of under the First Amendment without in any way being intimidated or interfered with that's federal law.”


Cox also criticized the order requiring residents to wear masks in retail establishments, calling it another "overreach."


Medical experts, including those at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommend the use of masks to prevent people who have COVID-19 but don't have symptoms from spreading the virus to others.



In addition to being a plaintiff himself, Cox is also listed as an attorney for several other plaintiffs named in the suit. 


As defendants, the suit names Hogan, as well as Secretary of Health Robert Neall, Maryland State Police Superintendent Woodrow Jones and Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services Fran Phillips.


A spokeswoman for the Maryland Attorney General’s Office declined to comment on pending litigation.

Rachel Baye is a senior reporter and editor in WYPR's newsroom.
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