Governor Jay Inslee responded to MacEwen v. Inslee by questioning the lawsuit’s motivations, insinuating the plaintiffs wanted to see people die of COVID-19. State Representative Drew MacEwen – one of the plaintiffs – joined KTTH’s Jason Rantz to respond. MacEwen told Rantz,
“We don’t want to see anybody die, of course not. And for [Inslee] to resort to such language and name-calling is childish on his part. We have tried to engage with the administration from the beginning on this and were supportive of the initial emergency declaration and the actions taken.”
The problems with Inslee’s actions began when he refused to engage with the people’s elected representatives seeking to lend a voice to those impacted by COVID-19 in other ways. Inslee refused to acknowledge appeals to help people facing financial ruin and those with worsening medical conditions due to limited access to treatments. By even disbanding his advisory groups, Inslee revealed his determination to hold on to unilateral power to Washingtonians’ determinant.
The groups of GOP legislators – supported by Citizen Action Defense Fund – filed the lawsuit after the cited objectives to emergency orders were achieved. Initial public health models demanded that Washington “flatten the curve” and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. The curve flattened and hospitals – so underwhelmed – faced bankruptcy. Yet, Inslee refused to remove the emergency orders infringing on Washingtonians’ constitutional rights. MacEwen explained,
“The things that were cited in that initial declaration have been met, and you cannot continue to govern because something might come back… Because if we’re going to do that, then we might as well live in a state of emergency, as some time we’re going to have the Cascadia earthquake…”
As MacEwen made clear, the lawsuit was never about placing “profits above people.” It was about trusting “businesses and labor to make the proper decisions for healthy ways to operate” more than trusting the governor to make unilateral decisions for everyone. It’s never appropriate for the government to pick “winners and losers” – unfortunately, those were the results of Inslee’s orders. Big box stores remained open, but small business landscapers could not landscape, and painters could not paint.
Ultimately, as MacEwen put it, “You don’t have a state of emergency for what might happen, you have a state of emergency for what is happening.” The courts agreed. MacEwen v. Inslee resulted in the state’s attorneys acknowledging they could not enforce the emergency orders and Inslee revising several orders.
Citizen Action Defense Fund’s fight to defend the constitutional rights of all Washingtonians – especially during a state of emergency – resulted in an invigorated mission. We are dedicated to pursuing strategic, high-impact litigation to sustain, defend and provide the means to preserve individual constitutional rights. Our mission is to protect free markets, limited government and constitutional rights – and that’s just what we are doing through legal battles across Washington.