Judge in Baker County has to act Tuesday to defend or drop his order on governor’s pandemic rules

Health officials provide the one-day testing recently to give local authorities a better sense of the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community. (The Enterprise/Yadira Lopez)

The Oregon Supreme Court on Saturday issued a deadline to the Baker County judge who this week granted a preliminary injunction nullifying Oregon governor’s emergency coronavirus orders: Either throw out the injunction by 5 p.m. Tuesday or explain why it should not do so.

If Baker County Judge Matthew Shirtcliff doesn’t alter his ruling that found Gov. Kate Brown’s executive orders restricting social gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic “null and void,” the state’s high court then will accept additional briefings on the issue.

The final briefing would be due June 2.

On Monday night, the state Supreme Court stepped in to put a hold on a dramatic decision by the eastern Oregon judge that declared not only the governor’s restrictions on church gatherings “null and void” but all her “Stay Home Save Lives’’ coronavirus emergency orders.

The state’s high court has now issued what’s called an alternative writ of mandamus. If the Baker County judge doesn’t withdraw his injunction, the state’s high court asked for further legal briefs on the question of whether the trial court should be ordered to dismiss it.

Shirtcliff had ruled that the governor’s executive orders in response to the global pandemic exceeded a 28-day limit adopted by state lawmakers and were no longer valid in response to a suit filed by 10 churches, the non-profit Pacific Justice Institute and 21 others against the governor.

The governor’s office appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court to keep her emergency orders in effect, arguing that Shirtcliff overstepped his authority and his legal reasoning was flawed.

The state’s high court also Saturday granted friend of the court status to the Oregon Nurses Association, which is supporting the push by the governor’s office to throw out the injunction.

Full story HERE.

This story is published as part of a collaborative of Oregon media outlets who are sharing coverage related to the global pandemic. The Enterprise is part of the collaborative.