In an 11-page Order late Friday afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow refused to issue a Temporary Restraining Order placing an immediate hold on Arizona's stay-at-home orders in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
As to whether Governor Doug Ducey had the right to declare the emergency, Judge Snow stated:
"COVID-19 was present and rising in Arizona, and had been identified as a public health emergency by both the WHO and HHS. the Court simply does not possess the authority to second-guess Governor Ducey’s decision to declare a state of emergency, in accordance with Arizona law, where there was some evidence, upon which he relied3, to support the existence of a public health emergency. Of course the governor’s power “to declare an emergency and thus eliminate the constraints of the due process clause is not without bounds.” However, to evade the deferential review given to emergency decisions, a plaintiff must show “the [state] official kn[e]w no emergency exist[ed], or [acted] with reckless disregard of the actual circumstances.” In light of the multiple publications declaring COVID-19 a public health emergency, and Plaintiff’s own admission that COVID-19 is highly contagious and present in all 50 states, Plaintiff has not and is not likely able to make this showing. As a result, Plaintiff will not likely succeed on the merits of this claim. Nor does the Court find that Plaintiff has raised serious questions as to its merits."Similarly, Judge Snow disagreed with Mr. McGhee's claims that the Executive Orders violated either his rights to procedural or substantive due process.
10am: Federal Judge Hears Arguments On Constitutionality Of Arizona's Stay-At-Home Orders, Will Rule Later Today
The constitutionality of Arizona's Stay-At-Home Orders was argued in federal court this morning, and District Judge G. Murray Snow will issue a decision on this "important issue" by the end of the day.
The case was brought in early April by furloughed Flagstaff restaurant worker Joseph McGhee. He represented himself today, and argued that Arizona's Executive Orders amounted to a "mass quarantine" that infringes on well individuals' constitutional liberty rights, without providing due process.
Both Judge Murray Snow and attorney Brett Johnson acknowledged the efforts made by Mr. McGhee's. In the 50-minute long telephone hearing, the judge led him through some of the arguments and complimented him on his "turn of phrase" in suggesting that the Executive Order unconstitutionally restricts his right to "aimlessly wander. Johnson noted that "we all recognize that in his initial pleadings, Mr. McGhee raises important issues.
***(Previous article, below)
The question of whether Arizona Governor Doug Ducey's "Stay Home" Executive Orders are unconstitutional will be the primary issue Friday morning during argument before a U.S. District Court Judge. A furloughed Flagstaff restaurant worker* filed the case more than a month ago against Mayor Coral Evans and Governor Doug Ducey.
Flagstaff took the case out of Coconino County Superior Court and brought it the federal court in Phoenix, and the Governor's attorneys today filed a raft of pleadings blasting Plaintiff Joseph McGhee's lawsuit. "Plaintiffs (sic**) relies on vague and plainly erroneous contentions that the executive order prevents him from leaving his home. Further, while Plaintiff appears to argue that COVID-19 poses no meaningful health risk to him, he provides no reason why this Court should ignore the well-being of the many persons for whom COVID-19 does pose grave danger."
The Governor's pleadings include the gradual steps towards re-opening non-essential businesses which have been taken during the past few days, perhaps highlighting the apparent reasonableness in Arizona's approach. The upcoming hearing coincides with a movement by some on the right to protest that the state is not reopening fast enough. Another example is the recall petition taken out on Friday charging that the Governor's Executive Orders have been unconstitutional.
The oral arguments on McGhee's Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order against the Governor
McGhee argues that the "mass quarantine" violates Arizonans' constitutional rights without providing due process. He also claims that the scientific evidence shows the Covid-19 death rate is lower than widely believed, meaning that the state is not in the "extreme peril" required for such emergency measures. "(T)he fear and panic gripping the world is wholly unjustified."
Ducey's attorneys also filed today a Motion For Judicial Notice, which lays out a valuable timeline of government statistics and actions.