A group in Bozeman working with an attorney in Missoula filed a lawsuit in Helena District Court on Monday to block Governor Steve Bullock’s COVID 19 mandates regarding masks and that forced bars, taverns and restaurants to limit capacity and hours.

Missoula attorney Quentin Rhoades is representing Stand Up Montana, Baker Engineering and Structures, Liberty Fellowship, The Filling Station and one individual, Jane Rectenwald.

Rhoades described the lawsuit to KGVO News.

“The lawsuit is designed to challenge the governor's mask mandate and the governor's restrictions on taverns and restaurants and group sizes with regard to his COVID-19 response,” said Rhoades. “The governor has said that, for example, restaurants and taverns can only be at 50% capacity; that people inside have to wear masks; that they have to close at 10 o'clock, etc. It's our contention that the governor doesn't have the power to order those sorts of mandates without some sort of participation by the legislature which he hasn't gotten.”

Rhoades explained what will happen after the lawsuit is filed in Helena District Court.

“This week, we're going to file a motion for a preliminary injunction asking the district court to order the governor and the Department of Public Health and Human Services to cease and desist in enforcing the mask mandate and the restrictions on taverns and restaurants,” he said. “We're going to ask them to do that because we've made it what they call a prima facie case, in other words a showing on its face that we should prevail in the case and we've also made a showing that our clients are suffering injury while we wait for the ultimate outcome.”

Rhoades claimed that the governor’s mask mandate is not scientifically supported and referenced the Centers for Disease Control, as well as a document called ‘The Great Barrington Declaration’.

“I don't know if you've heard of the Great Barrington declaration, but we have one of the original signers as our principal expert witness,” he said. “He's a statistician and a scientist from Baylor University who has been working on this for months. Not only does the CDC agree that there's no science to support masks, but so do these people who've been studying that carefully, so if there's no science to support the masks, why are we living with them and why are we fooling ourselves that they're somehow helping us when they're actually not?”

Rhoades said he is ready for the firestorm of criticism sure to come after the filing of the lawsuit from those who will claim that he supports more COVID cases and more deaths, which he said ‘would be unkind, an important virtue in today’s world’.

“It seems like in the 21st century, the number one virtue of the American popular media is kindness,” he said. “We all have to be kind to each other. Well, there are other virtues. One of them is courage; another is justice; a third is fortitude. Yes, we do need to be kinder to each other, but we also have to be brave. We have to be truthful, and we have to be just and we have to have the strength to pursue things even when they're difficult.”

In the lawsuit, Rhoades states that ‘the lockdown had devastated Montana, ripping the very fabric of its social, psychological and economic life’.

 

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