Baker County Circuit Court Judge Matthew B. Shirtcliff declined a request Tuesday by the Oregon Supreme Court to explain why he stands by his ruling that halted Gov. Kate Brown's safety measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
A group of churches, led by one in Baker County, assorted groups and political activist Kevin Mannix, sued the governor, saying she violated the Oregon Constitution by not allowing the legislature, within a specific timeline, a hand in the process of creating safety restrictions for the coronavirus. They also said the restriction violated their right to free assembly and freedom of religion.
Shirtcliff ruled May 18 that the plaintiffs were correct in their interpretation of the laws. The same day, the high court issued a stay and last Saturday, ordered the judge to respond by Tuesday by either withdrawing the ruling, or to provide an explanation of why it should stand.
Shirtcliff sent his short response Tuesday morning.
"As you know, the Oregon Supreme Court issued an Alternative Writ of Mandamus on May 23, 2020. I have elected to stand by my original ruling. I will not be vacating the May 18, 2020 Order Granting Preliminary Injunctive Relief and Denying Motion To Dismiss or taking other action."
What happens now is that the court will accept more legal briefs from the state and the plaintiffs on the case until June 2, according to high court spokesman Todd Sprague. A decision by the court on whether to permanently vacate the judge's order will follow at an undetermined date, he said.