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VA Supreme Court Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Governor's COVID Restrictions

Sign saying 'Supremem Court of Virginia'
The Supreme Court of Virginia has once again upheld emergency executive orders issued by Gov. Ralph Northam to help curb the spread of COVID-19. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM)

The Supreme Court of Virginia dismissed the joint case of a restaurant owner in Fredericksburg and an event venue owner in Loudon County who sued Gov. Ralph Northam over his COVID-19 restrictions. They asked the court to block the safety measures outlined in his executive orders, which they said severely limit their operations. 

Sen. Chap Peterson (D-Fairfax City), who is also an attorney, is representing the business owners in the lawsuit — which argues that the governor’s orders are unconstitutional and exceed his executive authority.  But Attorney General Mark Herring said the restrictions are legal and have proven effective. 

“When these safety measures are rolled back too soon, or when courts strike them down as they have in some other states, we’ve seen the virus come roaring back,” Herring said.

He added that the efforts have prevented the spread of the coronavirus disease. Herring pointed to recent research from the University of Virginia showing that the state has avoided more than 800,000 cases as a result of the restrictions. 

“Who knows how many of those 800,000 cases we might have actually experienced in Virginia. But thankfully, because we were successful in winning these cases, the mitigation efforts have remained in place,” Herring said. 

This is the 15th case challenging Virginia’s COVID-19 measures that Herring has successfully defended in court. 

Last month, a federal judge refused to temporarily block Northam’s executive orders in a separate case involving the Loudoun County wedding venue. And in May, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled in Herring’s favor in a lawsuit filed by Republican state senators representing the owner of a Gold’s Gym franchise.