In this photo taken Tuesday, June 16, 2020, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee talks about the coronavirus outbreak following a briefing at Yakima Valley College in Yakima, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Federal judge rejects legal challenges to Washington governor’s emergency orders to curb spread of COVID-19

Legal challenge contended that ongoing restrictions for businesses, workers and residents weren’t legally justified

A federal judge Friday denied a request for a preliminary injunction against Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s emergency coronavirus orders that had been brought by some Republican state lawmakers.

Filed in May by those legislators and other plaintiffs, the legal challenge contended “the emergency has been contained” and that ongoing restrictions for businesses, workers and residents weren’t legally justified.

The legal challenge —one of several seeking to stop Inslee’s use of emergency powers to slow the spread of the virus —was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

In a court order dated Friday, Judge Benjamin Settle wrote that federal lawsuits against state officials are allowed in certain instances where the state official being sued has a connection with the enforcement of an allegedly unconstitutional act.

But attorneys for Inslee persuasively argued that while the governor issues emergency orders, Settle wrote, it is other officials who actually enforce those orders.

Since the pandemic began in March there has been little enforcement of Inslee’s emergency orders.

Settle on Friday also denied a second legal challenge seeking a preliminary injunction against Inslee’s emergency powers. The judge rejected that challenge —brought by Republican gubernatorial candidate and anti-tax activist Tim Eyman and some other plaintiffs —on similar grounds.

The two orders come roughly a week after a judge in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Washington rejected a lawsuit by a water park in Chelan County seeking to block Inslee’s emergency restrictions on businesses.

The conservative Freedom Foundation —a frequent opponent of the governor who is representing Slidewaters water park —is appealing that decision.

With cases of the new coronavirus rising across Washington, Inslee on Thursday tightened some restrictions in his four-part reopening plan being used by Washington’s 39 counties, including on how restaurants and bars can operate.

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