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A group of Placer County restaurants and bars are suing Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state of California, arguing the governor’s executive orders aimed at stopping COVID-19’s spread have been unconstitutional overreach and the state of emergency should be lifted.
The Placer County Restaurant & Bar Coalition announced the lawsuit, which organizers say will be filed Monday, at a news conference Friday morning. The suit claims Newsom violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment by disregarding due process in his executive orders, including those closing restaurants and bars’ indoor service.
Allied restaurants include Brick Yard Kitchen & Bar, House of Oliver, La Provence Restaurant & Terrace and Randy Peters Catering (Roseville), Primo Pizza and The Brass Tap (Rocklin) and Infusion Taproom (Lincoln). The organization’s website also lists Pete’s Restaurant & Brewhouse as a supporter, though it’s unclear which of the California chain’s three Placer County locations are included.
“We don’t want to hurt anybody, but at the same time we don’t want to be hurting. What (Newsom is) doing right now to us small business owners is killing us financially,” Primo Pizza co-owner Rula Sger said.
The Placer County Restaurant & Bar Coalition appears to have formed last month. The lawsuit is funded by the California Constitutional Rights Foundation, run by former San Diego County Superior Court Judge Gary Kreep. The CCRF has no immediately available online information other than donation pages and is not connected to the nationwide, nonpartisan Constitutional Rights Foundation nonprofit.
Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, R-Rocklin, and Congressman Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, lent their support at the press conference Friday. Kiley and fellow Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, successfully sued Newsom last year in Sutter County Superior Court over an executive order related to election procedure; the case has since moved to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
In the greater Sacramento area, only restaurants in Yolo and El Dorado counties have been given state permission to reopen for indoor dining at 25% occupancy. Several Placer County restaurants have done so regardless, and House of Oliver and La Provence face possible California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control penalties as a result.
The Placer County coalition sent a letter to Newsom on Monday asking him to rescind all executive orders related to the pandemic — essentially a full reopening, as governors in states such as Texas and Mississippi recently did. There was no response, Kreep said.
“California and New York led the nation into this fiasco. Florida and Texas are leading us out of it. It’s time we wised up and joined them,” McClintock said.
Placer County controversially ended its State of Emergency in September 2020, leading then-public health officer Dr. Aimee Sisson to resign in protest. COVID-19 cases surged in the winter, as in much of the United States, but have significantly dropped recently thanks in part to robust vaccine administration and Placer County will likely move into the red tier next week.
The California Constitutional Rights Foundation plans to file similar lawsuits in San Diego, San Bernardino and Riverside counties in the coming weeks, Kreep said.
Gov. Newsom’s press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.