While federal and state officials spar over the pace at which to “reopen” the economy and get Americans back to their regular routines, at least one lawsuit has been filed over the ongoing closures imposed on the public due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Two business owners in Connecticut have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court challenging the governor’s orders that have kept them shut down since mid-March, arguing that such orders violate the Constitution.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two New Haven bar and restaurant owners by high profile attorney Norm Pattis and partner Kevin Smith. Should it find success, the lawsuit could pave the way for numerous other endeavors to follow a similar course. It seeks injunctive relief from the forced closures as a first step, allowing businesses to re-open without restriction to the number of patrons allowed. It names Gov. Ned Lamont and New Haven mayor Justin Elicker as defendants.
“What’s at stake here for CT and the country is not whether we are going to take actions to combat covid, but whether we are going to take action in a way that comports with the constitution and the rational society it undergirds, or whether we are going to allow for an unexamined free for all approach that indulges the worst human instincts and allows panic to rule where reason should,” Smith argued in an email sent to the New Haven Independent. “Between the edges of panic and reason is where corruption spawns.”
It argues that the orders violate business owners’ First Amendment rights to free assembly and association as well as 14th Amendment rights to pursue a living. It also alleges an unconstitutional “taking” of plaintiff property under the Fifth Amendment.
Pattis, whose past clients have included Infowars provocateur Alex Jones, indicated in March that he would likely challenge any orders imposing restrictions on Connecticut businesses due to the coronavirus.
“We have the plaintiffs prepared to challenge such an order,” he told the Independent prior to such orders coming down at either the state or local level. “I understand the need for a powerful public health response to the crisis, but this isn’t China.”
Connecticut has been one of the hardest-hit states in the nation, alongside neighbors New York and Massachusetts. Gov. Lamont has ordered all non-essential businesses shut down through at least May 20th, with 14,755 confirmed cases and 868 deaths linked to the virus as of Wednesday afternoon.
Photo: Norm Pattis via https://www.normpattis.com/