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Federal Lawsuit Over COVID Closures Dropped As Backers Change Legal Strategy

Dan Konik

Opponents of Gov. Mike DeWine’s COVID restrictions and shutdowns have dropped their federal lawsuit they filed last fall, asking for the removal of the state of emergency that was declared in March. But that doesn’t mean the end of the legal fight is over. 

Attorney Robert Gargasz says the lawsuit was withdrawn due to a change in legal strategy. 

“Strategically, the judge wanted things adjusted and we are going to adjust them for the judge and we are going to the court so it’s not over. The fight has only begun," Gargasz says.

Gargasz doesn't want to explain details of his new legal strategy, citing attorney-client privilege. But he says the new, soon to be filed lawsuit will prove DeWine’s actions are unconstitutional.

Some businesses say they were badly hurt when the state demanded they shut down last spring. And they say the continuing limitations that are still in place, including a statewide mask mandate, continue to hurt their businesses.

When issuing coronavirus closures and restrictions last year, DeWine said the constitution specifically grants him the authority to issue the state of emergency.

Since that time, Ohio lawmakers have been considering bills that would strip DeWine of some of those powers in the future. They've sent to DeWine a bill that would allow them to rescind states of emergencyor health orders. DeWine says he'll veto it.

"It would be absolutely irresponsible for me to do anything but veto this bill." DeWine says— Andy Chow (@andy_chow) March 11, 2021

But the bill passed by veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.