Spokane judge tosses waterpark’s lawsuit challenging legality of Inslee’s stay-home order

Slidewaters water park in Lake Chelan wants a federal judge to step in and allow it to open, despite Governor Inslee's stay home order
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SPOKANE, Wash. — A federal judge has thrown out a Lake Chelan waterpark’s lawsuit questioning the legality of Governor Jay Inslee’s pandemic emergency response.

Slidewaters, a family-owned waterpark, filed the lawsuit against the governor and the Department of Labor and Industries in response to the ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order. The order closed or restricted operations at certain businesses in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Slidewaters argued that the governor does not have the power to decide which businesses are more expendable than others.

The waterpark employs 150 people each summer and was unable to open during Phase 1 of Inslee’s ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order. Chelan County remains in Phase 1 and the waterpark has been open, despite the state’s order saying it could not open until Phase 3.

Judge Thomas Rice of the Eastern District Court of Washington said the following when dismissing the case:

“Even if Plaintiff [Slidewaters] has identified a constitutionally protected interest upon which the emergency proclamation infringes, the infringement is justified by the ongoing public health emergency caused by COVID-19.”

In a press release issued Tuesday, Inslee thanked the Attorney General’s Office for their work on the case, saying, “This unequivocal ruling on the merits was made possible by their efforts.”

Ashley Varner, Vice President of Communications for the Freedom Foundation, released the following statement after the ruling:

“We are disappointed by the Court’s ruling yesterday. Today, we filed an appeal to the Ninth Circuit, as we believe the constitutional and statutory issues of this case are as clear now as they were when we filed the suit. The Court was willing to give dictatorial powers to the Governor, at the expense of the rights of Washington citizens. The Freedom Foundation stands by our clients’ rights to operate their business in a safe manner, and the local health department deemed their re-opening plan was sound (before the state government got involved).”

4 News Now has been in communication with the lawyers representing Slidewaters and is awaiting a statement. This story will be updated.

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