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Libertarian Group Backs Bridal Shop's Lawsuit Over "Non-Essential" Businesses

A sign displayed in the front window of a Hobby Lobby craft store in Columbus. The store reopened after the stay at home order was issued, but closed after a cease-and-desist letter from Attorney General Dave Yost on April 2.
A sign displayed in the front window of a Hobby Lobby craft store in Columbus. The store reopened after the stay at home order was issued, but closed after a cease-and-desist letter from Attorney General Dave Yost on April 2.

UPDATE: Chief Judge Algenon Marbley ruled that Hartman's rights aren't being violated because the order applies to all non-essential businesses, and rejected her request for a temporary restraining order on the state's stay at home order. A hearing is set for May 11.

A libertarian group is joining in with a Columbus bridal shop in filing a lawsuit in federal court against Ohio’s stay at home order, saying the state must hold hearings for businesses that have been shut down.

Maurice Thompson of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law is representing Tanya Hartman and Gilded Social bridal shop. He said government can’t choose which businesses are essential.

“Many frivolous things are up and running and exempt by government, like marijuana, like liquor, like the lottery, like car washes," Thompson said.

Medical marijuana dispensaries, which are regulated by the state, are considered essential businesses. Liquor stores, which are not operated by the state but are run by state-licensed entities, are open - many are in grocery stores, which are considered essential. But liquor sales are banned to people without valid ID in six counties that border on Pennsylvania. That state closed its liquor stores last month, sending people across state lines to buy booze.

The Lottery Commission said last month its operation is "an essential government function providing funding of public education and our ongoing philanthropic efforts across the state". And the state's Dispute Resolution Commission determined car washes could continue to operate under certain conditions.

Thompson said the state needs to hold hearings where businesses deemed non-essential can prove they can operate safely.

“Look, we can operate our business with social distancing, six feet apart, gloves, masks, Purell, whatever it takes – there are many businesses that are currently shut down that can prove in a hearing that they should be allowed to open," said Thompson.

Thompson said the state's Dispute Resolution Panel is offering hearings to county health departments, so that’s not adequate.

Attorney General Dave Yost said the lawsuit has no merit.

A hearing is set for Monday morning. A decision is expected by Wednesday.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.