TACOMA — Two Okanogan County residents are among those who filed a federal class action lawsuit Friday, May 1, against Gov. Jay Inslee over his stay home, stay healthy orders related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court, Tacoma, not long before Inslee began a press conference in which he announced he would extend the stay home order and implement a phased opening of the state.
Heading the list of plaintiffs are Republican gubernatorial candidate and activist Tim Eyman, Franklin County Republican Party chairman Clint Didier and several others, including county residents Patty DeTro – beauty salon owner and wife of Okanogan County Commissioner Jim DeTro – and auto dealership owner Jason Bernica.
Also named as plaintiffs are “other nonessential Washingtonians similarly situated.”
The complaint for violation of civil rights alleges Democrat Inslee, in his capacity as governor, “has created an unacceptable tyranny in the State of Washington in violation of the Declaration of Independence” and several articles and amendments of the U.S. Constitution and state Constitution.
“His attempt to assert himself as a tyrant has restricted and denied the liberty of all Washingtonians and has violated the civil rights of the discreet class of plaintiffs named herein,” the suit alleges.
The suit alleges Inslee has denied plaintiffs:
• The privilege of writ of habeas corpus (requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court).
• Freedom to practice religion, peaceably assemble, and move and associate freely.
• Ability to attend open meetings of government entities making public laws.
• The right to attend political rallies and assemble to assert grievances against the government.
• Fundamental property interests by shutting down businesses deemed non-essential.
• Due process, by placing people under limited house arrest and quarantine.
• Equal protection of the law by deeming certain people as engaging in essential business and others as non-essential.
The suit alleges several state laws concerning the governor’s emergency powers run contrary to the U.S. and state constitutions.
Inslee’s initial, March 23 executive order imposing the stay home, stay healthy plan was extended to May 4 and, on May 2, was extended again. (See related story.)
Inslee has not yet answered the suit.
The plaintiffs, none of whom are ill, had their ability to meet with others and/or their businesses closed with no right of appeal, the suit said.
They are seeking a minimum of $100,000 in damages. They ask that Inslee’s orders be declared in violation of the U.S. Constitution and that he be prevented from taking further actions depriving them of their rights. They also claim he invoked martial law in violation of the state and U.S. constitutions.
Plaintiffs are represented by attorney Stephen Pidgeon, Everett.