ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Three Republican state lawmakers are among 18 plaintiffs suing Gov. Larry Hogan in federal court, over Maryland's stay-at-home order.
The lawsuit was filed Saturday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
In the federal complaint, the state delegates, pastors and businesses call for temporary restraining orders to stop Gov. Larry Hogan's social distancing policies, saying they violate their rights.
One of the lawmakers, Delegate Dan Cox, says that he was threatened with arrest on Saturday morning if he spoke at a ReOpen Maryland rally in Frederick, where the group was starting a road caravan across the state to Salisbury.
In court documents, Cox says that he was warned by a senior law enforcement official that the "Governor has his sights on you" and he could be arrested if he attended the ReOpen Maryland rally to speak.
In a Facebook post, Cox states in part:
"However, the line of freedom that the Supreme Court has explained is sacred to our American values and our natural liberty, has been crossed. On behalf of 22,000 Marylanders and millions who agree in this State, it's past time Mr. Governor to lighten the heavy hand of your Executive Orders and stop picking winners and losers, and Reopen Maryland. Marylanders will not stand for continued house arrest and lock-downs and the destruction of our businesses and way of life."
The suit names Hogan, Health Secretary Bobby Neall, Deputy Health Secretary Fran Phillips and Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. Woodrow W. Jones III as defendants.
Delegate Neil Parrott and Delegate Warren Miller are among the list of plaintiffs, who also include the owner of Adventure Park in New Market, the owner of the Antietam KOA Campground, two Iraq War veterans, and 10 pastors. The group argues that Hogan's orders limiting crowds and shutting down most businesses violate constitutional and federal laws protecting commerce, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion.
"The destruction of the economy has to play an important role in decision making," said Miller. "Many [small businesses] cannot understand why it’s okay to go into a large retail facility like a Walmart or a Safeway and buy things that you could buy at smaller businesses that are closed. There’s an unlevel playing field there."
More than half of all states have started reopening non-essential businesses. Maryland's stay-at-home order is still in effect.
This evening on Fox News, Hogan said he's focused on getting the economy back on track in a safe way as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise.
"We’re hoping to get our numbers to plateau so we can get things open as quickly as possible because we have too many people not working, too many businesses that are suffering but we also wanna make sure we can do it in a safe way," said Hogan.
"While there is valid health concern, what we were told was we need to quarantine to flatten the curve of COVID. We’ve done that. The hospitals have ramped up. They appropriate supplies now," said Miller.
The lawsuit reflects feelings shared during a ReOpen Maryland protest in Salisbury Saturday.
"I didn’t wake up in communist China and I didn’t wake up in North Korea this morning and tomorrow morning I should be able to go to the church of my choice and worship the way I choose," said Republican Rep. Andy Harris.
Hogan responded on CNN's State of the Union Sunday morning, saying he respects their right to protest.
"Sadly we had far more people die yesterday in Maryland than we had protesters. Congressman Harris, I’m not sure where he woke up yesterday morning but maybe he confused North Korea and South Korea. South Korea is doing great job on testing and we just saved the lives of thousands of Maryland’s by getting those half million tests from Korea," said Hogan.
The lawsuit also calls for an end to the order that mandates wearing face coverings to enter into businesses.
You can read the whole 56-page lawsuit here.