Eyman lawsuit calls Gov. Inslee’s COVID-19 shutdown orders Unconstitutional

The News Tribute writes:

A group of citizens sued Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday, arguing that his orders during the pandemic to help stop the spread of COVID-19 have violated their constitutional rights.


Tax activist Tim Eyman, who is running for governor as a Republican, is one of the plaintiffs. Clint Didier, chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party, and five other residents of the Tri-Cities and Okanogan County also are named in the lawsuit.


“... we’re suing Jay Inslee in federal court on his unconstitutional ‘essential versus non-essential’ designation of people and businesses,” Eyman wrote in an announcement Thursday. “He’s been deciding who’s in and who’s out based on politics, not the law or our state and federal Constitutions. Now he’s begrudgingly doing baby-step restriction rollbacks due to political pressure and public embarrassment.”

At a press conference Wednesday he said: “We’re not going to make giant mistakes of waking up and thinking the sun is shining so we can forget about this deadly virus. Look, we’ve lost over 700 people already because of this virus, and we’re going to lose that again in the next several months if we do not stick with this.”


He went on to say: “The fundamental principle we’re following is ‘let’s just do this once and get it over with.’ And I think it is much better to be disciplined now with this approach rather than have erratic steps at a later date. It’s much better to do something a 100 percent one time than have the sacrifice of 90 percent twice.”


The state Department of Health had reported 14,637 COVID-19 cases and 824 deaths as of Friday.


Inslee has shared data the state is using to make its decisions, which is also available online.


“We want to keep Washingtonians healthy as we begin our recovery from COVID-19. To do that, we need to follow the science,” he said on Twitter.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, alleges: “Defendant Jay Inslee has created an unacceptable tyranny in the state of Washington ... . His attempt to assert himself as tyrant has restricted and denied the liberty of all Washingtonians and has violated the civil rights of the discreet class of plaintiffs named herein.”


It seeks a declaratory judgment that Inslee’s order is unconstitutional and an injunction to prevent him from further such actions.


“On March 23, 2020, under Executive Order 20-25, Jay Inslee imposed a Stay Home – Stay Healthy Order throughout Washington State which prohibited ‘all people in Washington State from leaving their homes or participating in social, spiritual and recreational gatherings of any kind regardless of the number of participants, and all non-essential businesses in Washington State from conducting business, within the limitations provided herein,’” the lawsuit says.


Besides Eyman and Didier, a county commissioner, the other plaintiffs named on the suit are a Richland nurse Lisa Thomas, wedding planner LaWanda Joy Hatch, Shakey’s Pizza Parlor owner Dean Wellsfry, Okagnogan County beauty salon owner Patty DeTro, and Okanogan auto dealership owner Jason Bernica.


“Plaintiffs assert damages in the minimum amount of One Hundred Thousand dollars ($100,000) which include pain and suffering, loss of liberty, and injuries to property and income in an amount to be proved at trial,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit also generally names “nonessential Washingtonians,” “a discrete class of people who are engaged in businesses and occupations suffering a deprivation of liberty, unlawful discrimination and disparate treatment, being excluded by Defendant Jay Inslee’s Executive Orders... .”


Eyman publicized a letter he wrote to Attorney General William Barr Friday about the case.


“... regular citizens are filing a civil rights violation lawsuit challenging Governor Jay Inslee’s economic lockdown which is devastating low- and middle-income workers and small businesses,” the letter said. “Inslee’s recent and foolish decision to extend his lockdown beyond the federal guideline of May 1st will result in additional and substantial harm to working families in our state.”


Eyman wrote that Friday’s lawsuit is the first of several that will be filed.


“On behalf of the non-essential citizens of WA, I urge you and your office to join us in our efforts to Open Washington Now,” the letter says. “Please Mr. Barr, Inslee is not listening to the people who are suffering under his rule. We need your help to convince the judiciary to rein him in before he causes irreparable harm to our lives, liberty, and livelihoods.”

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