New Jersey Republicans and four small businesses are suing Gov. Phil Murphy in state Superior Court over his stay-at-home order as more and more business owners and workers protest publicly over the forced closures during the coronavirus outbreak.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Cape May County, is the latest legal challenge to the Democratic governor’s coronavirus-related executive orders. The three-count complaint alleges there is no “rational basis” for Murphy to order businesses closed solely because of the services they provide and that the order violates the plaintiffs' rights to equal protection and due process.
“When you classify businesses as essential and non-essential, which you have here, you turn the right to private property into a privilege," Doug Steinhardt, chair of the New Jersey Republican State Committee, told reporters. “Your neighbor can earn a living simply because of where she works and for whom, and you can’t.”
The plaintiffs include a Sussex County barbershop, a Cumberland County golf course, a Cape May County brewery and a Somerset County horse trainer. One of their attorneys is Michael Testa, a Republican state senator representing Cape May County.
“These people are suffering very real damages because the governor has picked winners and losers,” Testa said.
Steinhardt said there's no sense for the state to allow The Home Depot to remain open and force barber shops, which can more easily sanitize equipment and tools between customers, closed.
The lawsuit represents the most high-profile effort yet by New Jersey Republicans to target Murphy, who recent polls show has high approval among New Jerseysans for his handling the coronavirus crisis.
A Murphy spokeswoman declined to comment. Asked about it at his daily briefing on Thursday, Murphy claimed not to know the details of the complaint.
"They sued me?" he said. "As you can tell I've spent a lot of time focused on that suit."
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Submitted 82 days ago