A federal judge has allowed to stand Maine Gov. Janet Mills’ (D) order requiring tourists to self-quarantine for two weeks after entering the state, which is known as “Vacationland.”
On Friday, U.S. Judge Lance Walker denied a motion for preliminary injunction while the lawsuit proceeds. A group of Maine campground and restaurant owners, who claim the governor’s executive order is discriminatory against visitors to the state and harmful to their businesses, is challenging the rule.
The Portland Press Herald noted Mills’ reopening plan has extended the two-week self-quarantine regulation for visitors through at least July.
The judge’s decision comes in the wake of a statement of interest filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in support of the lawsuit by the campground and restaurant owners.
According to a statement by Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division:
The United States Constitution requires government to protect the privileges and immunities of all citizens in our nation. These privileges and immunities include the right of Americans to travel freely anywhere in our country, and state governments cannot limit the right of out-of-state Americans to travel to their state unless doing so is substantially related to protecting the public safety. The Department of Justice remains committed to defending the constitutional rights of all Americans no matter where they live. The department will continue to be especially vigilant of any infringement on the right to travel that unduly harms the ability of Americans to earn a living and support their families.
In response to the DOJ’s statement of interest, Mills said, she was “deeply disappointed – and frankly disgusted – that the U.S Department of Justice is making a concerted effort to undermine the health of the people of Maine.”
The governor added the DOJ did not raise similar objections “when the President and his own task force took steps to limit travel.”
Mills said the required quarantine for visitors is “a proven tool to prevent the spread of this deadly disease.”
“It seems to me that [the DOJ’s] only actual ‘interest’ here is, at best, political or, at worst, to harm Mainers, not defend them,” she stated.
A group of Maine legislators sent a letter nearly two weeks ago to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, requesting an investigation into Mills’ numerous executive orders during the coronavirus crisis, and claiming she has “exceeded her executive authority.”
Among the specific concerns the lawmakers cited are Mills’ “arbitrary distinction between ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’ businesses; denial of Maine citizens’ “right to assemble” in churches with gatherings of more than ten people; and her executive order “establishing quarantine restrictions on travelers arriving in Maine.”
“She ordered churches, restaurants, motels, state parks, and campgrounds to close their doors as ‘non-essential’ enterprises, while allowing abortion clinics and ice cream parlors to carry on business as usual,” Maine Rep. Larry Lockman (R) said in a statement to Breitbart News. “Mom-and-pop retailers have been shut down, but the big box stores never missed a beat.”
“Before it’s over, the lockdown will kill more Mainers than the virus, in addition to killing tens of thousands of jobs and small businesses,” Lockman said.
“And for what?” he asked. “On a typical day, no more than three dozen COVID-19 patients are hospitalized statewide, in a state of 1.3 million people.”