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Lawsuits & Litigation

Parents Sue Utah Gov. Gary Herbert Over Pandemic Executive Orders

— September 11, 2020

Angry Utah parents are suing Governor Gary Herbert and the Utah Department of Health over what they call excessive executive orders that are allegedly trampling on their rights.

A handful of disgruntled parents recently decided to sue Governor Gary Herbert of Utah (R), along with the Utah Department of Health, over claims that Utahns have “experienced an unprecedented and unlawful suspension of their most sacred and fundamental rights” as a result of executive actions Herbert has taken during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Woman wearing a face mask
Woman wearing a face mask; image courtesy of coyot via Pixabay,

The suit was filed in Utah’s 4th District Court in Provo and argues Herbert has “issued 63 executive documents since March 6, including declared states of emergency and mask requirements in state facilities and K-12 public schools.” Additionally, the suit details out 29 different ways that the governor’s actions have “deprived the parents of their rights, including denying Utahns the right to worship freely and depriving the people of their access to justice.”

On top of that, the suit claims Herbert’s orders are denying “children their right of education and open schools and parents of their fundamental familial rights, including the right to manage their child’s education.” Additionally, the suit claims Herbert’s orders are denying Utahns of their “most fundamental rights of human contact and touch and imprison(ing) the people against their will through unlawful quarantine.”

Morgan Philpot, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, said:

“These ongoing irreparable harms demand immediate action. The court should not permit any continued violations of the law, nor any further denial of the Plaintiffs’ rights, or the rights of their children, under statutory law and under the United States and Utah Constitutions.”

Philpot also requested that the court “declare all executive orders and actions related to COVID-19 to be null and void, and no longer in effect and to enjoin state and school officials from taking any official action to Executive Orders issued prior to or after Aug. 20.” The suit further states:

“The court should immediately and permanently enjoin (the) Defendants, including Utah’s system of public schools, from: the enforcement of each provision of all the relevant orders, results and regulations discussed herein … (and) committing any further violations of their statutory and constitutional duties. If necessary, the court should recuse the parties, including any officers and agents, from all discretionary actions and decisions related to the state of emergency and the orders, rules, and regulations.”

The suit also points to the Book of Mormon as evidence that the rights of Utahns have been infringed on. It further argues:

“Most of the early framers of Utah’s Constitution held to a belief that this land was consecrated by God himself as ‘a land of liberty,” (and) that liberty included the right to ‘worship God according to their desires,’ and that human law did not have a right to ‘dictate forms for public or private devotion.’…Rarely, if ever, has a court of law been so blessed with an abundantly clear and available record of state Constitution, including its history, principles, and ideals.”

This isn’t the first time Utahns have spoken out against the COVID-19 restrictions. In fact, residents in Utah County, for example, have expressed their outrage by “packing a Utah County Commission meeting in July to oppose mask requirements in K-12 schools, holding a ‘Rally for Liberty’ against masks in August, and filing a citizen’s referendum in September in opposition to the Provo Municipal Council’s face mask mandate.”


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Utah County Commission cancels K-12 mask exemption meeting due to overcrowding, lack of masks

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