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Case Name Elkhorn Baptist Church v. Brown FA-OR-0001
Docket / Court 20CV17482 ( State Court )
State/Territory Oregon
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: On May 6, a group of Oregon churches and individuals sued the Governor of Oregon, Kate Brown, claiming that her executive orders imposing restrictions due to the pandemic were unconstitutional under the U.S. and Oregon constitutions. The plaintiffs were initially granted a ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: On May 6, a group of Oregon churches and individuals sued the Governor of Oregon, Kate Brown, claiming that her executive orders imposing restrictions due to the pandemic were unconstitutional under the U.S. and Oregon constitutions. The plaintiffs were initially granted a preliminary injunction, but it was vacated by the Supreme Court of Oregon on June 12. The case is ongoing.


On May 6, 2020 a group of Oregon churches and individuals sued the Governor of Oregon, Kate Brown, claiming that her executive orders imposing restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic were unconstitutional under the U.S. and Oregon constitutions. The lawsuit was in response to a series of executive orders issued by Governor Brown following the state of emergency she declared on March 8, 2020. The plaintiffs claimed the executive orders violates their right to assemble and worship. The plaintiffs sought a declaration that Governor Brown’s orders were invalid and a preliminary injunction enjoining Governor Brown from enforcing the executive orders while the lawsuit was pending. Specifically, the plaintiffs argued that the executive orders violated their religious freedoms and the statutory and constitutional time limits on the Governor's emergency powers. The plaintiffs brought this case as a declaratory and injunctive action under state law and were represented by a non-profit law firm.

The Governor objected to plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction and moved to dismiss the case on May 13. They argued that the executive orders were issued pursuant to Oregon law and therefore were not subject to the time limits. They further indicated that an injunction against the orders would create an unreasonable risk of exacerbating the spread of COVID-19.

On May 14, the plaintiffs also filed a motion seeking a temporary restraining order (TRO) that would prevent the governor from enforcing the executive order, including the prohibition on gatherings of people.

The trial court granted the motion for preliminary injunction and denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss on May 18, 2020. 2020 WL 2532528. Governor Brown immediately appealed to the Supreme Court of Oregon, seeking to vacate the preliminary injunction order and to stay the preliminary injunction pending the appeal. The same day, the Supreme Court of Oregon stayed the trial court's preliminary injunction pending their decision. 2020 WL 2603159.

Several parties filed amicus briefs to the Oregon Supreme Court during the next month.

On June 12, the Supreme Court of Oregon vacated the circuit court’s preliminary injunction. 366 Or. 506. The preliminary injunction was based on the conclusion that the executive orders violated a statutory time limit. However, the Supreme Court found that Governor Brown’s orders were issued properly under Oregon law and were not subject to the time limit. Therefore, the Supreme Court reasoned that the injunction was based on a legal error and vacated the order.

The case is ongoing.

Averyn Lee - 06/14/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) Governor of Oregon
Plaintiff Description A group of churches and individuals in Oregon
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
None yet
None
Source of Relief None yet
None
Order Duration 2020 - n/a
Filed 05/06/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Court Docket(s)
State Supreme Court
06/12/2020
20-CV-17482
FA-OR-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: State Court Website
General Documents
State Trial Court
05/06/2020
Verified Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief
FA-OR-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
State Supreme Court
05/18/2020
Relators' Memorandum in Support of Petition for a Peremptory or Alternative Writ of Mandamus
FA-OR-0001-0007.pdf | Detail
State Trial Court
05/18/2020
Opinion on Temporary Injunctive Relief (2020 WL 2532528)
FA-OR-0001-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
State Supreme Court
05/22/2020
Amicus Curiae Oregon Nurses Association's Brief
FA-OR-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
State Supreme Court
05/22/2020
Intervenors- Adverse Parties Memorandum in Opposition to Petition for a Peremptory or Alternative Writ of Mandamus
FA-OR-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
State Supreme Court
05/22/2020
Plaintiffs-Adverse Parties' Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant-Relator's Mandamus Petition
FA-OR-0001-0006.pdf | Detail
State Supreme Court
06/02/2020
Brief of New Civil Liberties Alliance as Amicus Curiae Supporting Adverse Parties and Opposing Relators' Mandamus Petition
FA-OR-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
State Supreme Court
06/12/2020
Opinion (2020 WL 3116543)
FA-OR-0001-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
show all people docs
Judges Balmer, Thomas Court not on record show/hide docs
FA-OR-0001-0004
Garrett, Christopher L. Court not on record show/hide docs
FA-OR-0001-0004
Shirtcliff, Matthew B. Court not on record show/hide docs
FA-OR-0001-0008 | FA-OR-0001-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Hacke, Ray (California) show/hide docs
FA-OR-0001-0002 | FA-OR-0001-0004 | FA-OR-0001-0006 | FA-OR-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Abrams, Marc (Oregon) show/hide docs
FA-OR-0001-9000
Beatty-Walters, Christina L. (Oregon) show/hide docs
FA-OR-0001-9000
Gutman, Benjamin N. (Oregon) show/hide docs
FA-OR-0001-0004 | FA-OR-0001-0007
Rosenblum, Ellen F. (Oregon) show/hide docs
FA-OR-0001-0007
Other Lawyers Doyle, Thomas K (Oregon) show/hide docs
FA-OR-0001-0003
Hartman, Bennett (Oregon) show/hide docs
FA-OR-0001-0001
Janzen, Paul (Oregon) show/hide docs
FA-OR-0001-0004
Mannix, Kevin L (Oregon) show/hide docs
FA-OR-0001-0001 | FA-OR-0001-0003 | FA-OR-0001-0004 | FA-OR-0001-0005
Masih, Aruna A (Oregon) show/hide docs
FA-OR-0001-0001 | FA-OR-0001-0003 | FA-OR-0001-0004
Miller, Luke D (Oregon) show/hide docs
FA-OR-0001-0001 | FA-OR-0001-0004

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