Republican lawmakers sue to stop governors from protecting the public


State legislators in Virginia and Wisconsin are suing to overturn orders designed to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republican legislators in two states have filed lawsuits aimed at overturning stay-at-home orders and non-essential business closures issued to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, Virginia state Sens. Ryan McDougle and Bill Stanley filed a lawsuit on behalf of the owner of several Gold Gym locations, claiming Gov. Ralph Northam's March 23 order temporarily closing fitness centers, gymnasiums, and other non-essential businesses exceeded his constitutional power.

"The doors of these health clubs should no longer be shuttered," Stanley said in a press release. "They need to be reopened."

Also on Tuesday, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald asked the state's Supreme Court to overturn a stay-at-home order. Gov. Tony Evers and his Health Services secretary extended the temporary rule on Monday, while laying out a plan to reopen the state in phases.

"The virus has never given us a timeline. ... No wants to reopen our economy as much as I do," Evers explained at the time.

The legislative leaders subsequently accused the governor's office of asserting "czar-like powers."

"There's immense frustration regarding the extension, as it goes beyond the executive branch's statutory powers," Vox and Fitzgerald claimed. "Wisconsinites are forced to sit by with no voice in the process."

Virginia has seen more than 9,600 COVID-19 cases and 324 deaths. Wisconsin has reported more than 4,600 cases and at least 242 deaths.

These suits are the latest efforts by Republican officials to undermine governors' orders and reopen the economy regardless of public health consequences.

Donald Trump, who has patently refused to issued a nationwide stay-at-home order, laid out a plan last week for states to gradually reopen.

"You're going to call your own shots," he reportedly told governors on Thursday. "We're going to be standing alongside of you."

Hours later, he issued a series of tweets demanding people "liberate" their states from the stay-at-home orders.

Republican lawmakers in other states have tried to use the legislative process to undermine stay-at-home orders. In Kansas, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, GOP-controlled legislatures have sought to override efforts by Democratic governors, with mixed results.

Public health officials have warned that ending social distancing could cause another deadly wave of COVID-19 cases. The nation's top epidemiologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday that "unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery economically is not going to happen."

"So what you do if you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you’re going to set yourself back," he told ABC News. "So as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening, it’s going to backfire. That’s the problem."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.