RELEASE: Supreme Court Should Heed Public Safety Over Partisan Challenges to COVID-19 Public Health Orders, CAP Analysis Says

Washington, D.C. — The Supreme Court must prioritize public safety over partisan challenges to valid public health orders issued during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new issue brief from the Center for American Progress.

Since the pandemic began, nearly all 50 states have issued public health orders, triggering a wave of lawsuits from businesses, religious groups, and political organizations. Most of these challenges contend that the state does not have authority to issue the order, that the order was discriminatory, or that the order constituted a regulatory taking.

These challenges largely have been partisan in nature rather than in the interest of public health, the analysis says. The legal validity of these orders is also supported by a long history of precedent showing that policing powers reside with the state, with courts consistently ruling that these powers include instituting protections during public health emergencies.

“To ensure the safety of Americans, it is critical that courts follow the law and not succumb to partisan political arguments that are at odds with case law and scientific reality,” said Stephanie Wylie, the senior policy analyst for Legal Progress at CAP and author of the issue brief. “But it is also important for courts to be attentive to the potential for states to abuse their broad emergency authorities—especially with an election looming.”

Read the issue brief: “The Supreme Court Should Not Politicize Valid Public Health Orders” by Stephanie Wylie

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