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Opponents Of Ohio's COVID Closures Drop Lawsuit, Change Strategy

A closed sign is posted at Pins Mechanical duckpin bowling alley and bar in downtown Columbus in March 2020.
Karen Kasler
/
Ohio Public Radio
A closed sign is posted at Pins Mechanical duckpin bowling alley and bar in downtown Columbus in March 2020.

Opponents of Gov. Mike DeWine’s COVID restrictions and shutdowns have dropped their federal lawsuit they filed last fall, which asked for the removal of Ohio's state of emergency that was declared in March. But that doesn’t mean the end of the legal fight is over.

Attorney Robert Gargasz says the lawsuit was withdrawn due to a change in legal strategy.

“Strategically, the judge wanted things adjusted and we are going to adjust them for the judge and we are going to the court, so it’s not over," Gargasz says. "The fight has only begun."

Gargasz doesn't want to explain details of his new legal strategy, citing attorney-client privilege. But he claims the new, soon-to-be-filed lawsuit will prove DeWine’s actions are unconstitutional.

Some businesses say they were badly hurt when the state demanded they shut down last spring. And they say the continuing limitations that are still in place, including a statewide mask mandate, continue to hurt their businesses.

When issuing coronavirus closures and restrictions last year, DeWine said the constitution specifically grants him the authority to issue the state of emergency.

Since that time, Ohio lawmakers considered and passed several bills that would strip the governor of some of those powers in the future. They've sent to DeWine a bill that would allow them to rescind states of emergency or health orders. 

DeWine says he'll veto it. However, the bill passed by veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate.