Binford, et al. v. Sununu, Governor of the State of New Hampshire, No. 217-2020-cv-00152 (Merrimack Sup. Ct.)
The Superior Court in the State of New Hampshire has denied plaintiffs’ request for injunctive relief from the governor’s emergency order prohibiting public gatherings of fifty or more persons during the time of the COVID-19 viral epidemic.
Plaintiffs challenged the order on federal and New Hampshire Constitutional grounds, arguing that the governor lacked authority to issue an unenforceable order which would interfere with rights of assembly and religion.
The Superior Court denied the plaintiffs’ emergency motion on March 18th, and after hearing, dismissed the case on March 20.
The court observed that the governor possesses emergency powers which may be used to protect the lives of the public during the present pandemic. The current use of such powers is all the more apt when of short duration: the emergency order by its terms will expire on April 3.
The court noted that the governor’s exercise of emergency powers are subject to circumscription by the legislature, and may be addressed by further judicial review should the need arise.
There is no formal written opinion at this time. The hearing on the motion was closed to the public, but news coverage has been provided from several sources, as an audio record of the hearing has been provided to the press..