Statement on Governor’s Filing of Response Brief in Lawsuit to Overturn COVID-19 Pandemic Executive Orders

The Fiscal Alliance Foundation released the following statement in response to Governor Charlie Baker’s filing of a Response Brief in the case of Dawn Desrosiers, et al. v. Governor Charles D. Baker (SJC 12983), which seeks to overturn the Governor’s executive orders shutting down much of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

“After 171 days, this lawsuit has forced Governor Baker to finally put pen to paper and offer the people of Massachusetts a written, legal explanation as to why he believes he has the authority to violate their civil rights and bypass the state’s Public Health Act,” said Danielle Webb, Esq, Chair of Fiscal Alliance Foundation  

On March 10, Governor Baker declared a state of emergency and began promulgating a series of executive orders shutting down businesses and limiting public assembly. Rather than utilizing the state Public Health Act, a law specifically passed by the legislature to deal with pandemic situations, Baker underpinned his decisions on the 1950s vintage Civil Defense Act.

“Under these orders, Massachusetts currently has the highest unemployment rate in the nation. This has been the case for over two months. When this lawsuit is finally heard by the Supreme Judicial Court, the many people who have been harmed will finally have their day in court,” said Paul D. Craney, a spokesman for the Foundation.

According to the Department of Labor, Massachusetts’s unemployment rate for the month of June was 17.4%. This number declined slightly to 16.1% in July, but still remained the worst record in the country.

“People can debate the merits and shortcomings of the policies put forth by Governor Baker in his executive orders all day, but their legal authority should never be in question. The lawsuit does not take a position on the orders. Rather, it focuses entirely on the legal underpinnings behind them. We believe laws, especially any laws that for whatever reason may abridge our civil rights, must originate from the democratically elected legislature. In bypassing the laws proscribed by the legislature, these executive orders set a bad precedent for future emergency situations,” concluded Craney.

A copy of the brief may be found by clicking here. 

The NCLA's reply to this brief is available by clicking here.