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Judge denies request to block Maryland coronavirus restrictions in ‘reopen’ lawsuit

A federal judge has denied a temporary restraining order that would have blocked Gov. Larry Hogan's restrictions that aim to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Opponents of the restrictions also have held rallies, including one in Annapolis last week.
A federal judge has denied a temporary restraining order that would have blocked Gov. Larry Hogan's restrictions that aim to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Opponents of the restrictions also have held rallies, including one in Annapolis last week.(Paul W. Gillespie/Capital Gazette)

A federal judge on Wednesday denied a request for a temporary restraining order that would have blocked Gov. Larry Hogan’s restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Blake wrote that granting a temporary restraining order blocking Hogan’s restrictions may cause more coronavirus infections.

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The lawsuit was brought by a group of Republican politicians, pastors, small business owners, two military veterans and an anti-restrictions advocacy group who objected to the coronavirus restrictions on a variety of grounds.

In order to get the temporary restraining order, the plaintiffs would have had to show that they were likely to succeed in the overall lawsuit and that they would have suffered “irreparable harm” if the order wasn’t granted. Blake found that they had not done so.

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Blake wrote it’s clear that the Republican governor’s restrictions — such as closing businesses and requiring masks to be worn in stores — are “informed, based on science, and substantially related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

She also found that Hogan’s orders have been narrowly tailored in an effort to impose the least restrictions possible to achieve public health outcomes.

She also was not swayed by arguments made by Del. Dan Cox, who is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit and a lawyer representing the group. Cox, a Republican, argued his rights were violated when Hogan administration officials sent him a copy of the executive order in advance of a rally he planned to attend.

The judge wrote that “the Governor has not silenced Cox or any other legislator. They remain free to express their disagreement with the executive orders while complying with the time, place, and manner restrictions the orders set forth.”

Blake made her ruling after both sides filed written arguments. The underlying lawsuit, which seeks to permanently overturn Hogan’s orders, remains active.

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