May 11, 2020 | BY STEVE COLLINS | SUN JOURNAL |
“Federal lawsuit asks a district court to rule Janet Mills’ restrictions on commerce are unconstitutional.”
“A group of nine Maine businesses filed suit Friday against Gov. Janet Mills in a bid to force the state to loosen economic restrictions that have forced them to shut down as part of an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The lawsuit asks a U.S. District Court to rule that Mills’ executive orders restricting business activity are unconstitutional and to bar her from issuing similar ones in the future.
The attorney for the businesses, Steve Smith of Bangor, said in a prepared statement that Mills’ regulations, which were revised Friday, “are arbitrary and capricious” and “favor big businesses over Maine’s lifeblood: its small businesses.”
Attorney General Aaron Frey said in response to the suit Friday that “the executive orders and the restarting plan at issue in this lawsuit were carefully crafted and have been reviewed and updated in order to protect Mainers’ health during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will represent the governor and will vigorously defend the constitutionality” of Mills’ actions and her authority to protect public health.
Among the plaintiffs in the case is Lee Ann DelCourt, owner of the Spillover Motel and Inn and Spillover Kitchen, both in Franklin County. She alleges the governor’s order has already cost $100,000 in revenue.
Five of the other businesses that filed suit are from Cumberland County. There are also establishments from Waldo, Hancock and Washington counties.
They include a construction company, a wedding disc jockey, an antiques dealer, a tour operator, a hair salon operator, a securities consultant and a surgeon.
Smith argues in the suit that Mills’ action in issuing a series of orders aimed at thwarting the spread of a new coronavirus “have closed down Maine civil society, effectively placed 1.2 million people under house arrest and taken jobs away from hundreds of thousands of people, all without due process of law.”
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