ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has filed a lawsuit against St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page among others for current and past COVID restrictions in the county.
The lawsuit says the restrictions put in place by Page Dr. Faisal Khan and the St. Louis County Department of Public Health were and are “arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.”
“This shouldn’t be about virtue signaling, this should be about the science,” Schmitt said. “Having outdoor masking requirements in St. Louis County is ridiculous. When you talk about school-age kids? Ridiculous. Talk about people having to get government permission for a barbecue? Ridiculous. Can sit next to a stranger on the bus but not next to a neighbor in church? Ridiculous.”
The lawsuit filed Tuesday in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, 21st Judicial Circuit, has eight counts against St. Louis County. Two of them are related to religious freedom, one alleges the county is in violation of freedom of assembly for “requiring government pre-approval for events,” another count alleges the newest COVID order is “vague and should be declared void,” and there are four counts that allege the county’s orders have been “arbitrary and capricious.”
Schmitt said his office sent a letter to Page three weeks ago “asking for an explanation and evidence justifying the County’s extreme restrictions on St. Louis County residents.”
Schmitt was unhappy with the response from the county, calling it a “bait and switch.”
“The county’s response was vague and unresponsive. Just several days later, the county rushed to amend their shut-down order in an apparent attempt to appease this office and avoid litigation. It has not,” Schmitt said.
Click here to read the letter.
The attorney general’s office said the county announced its “Reopen STL” plan within a week of sending a response to Schmitt. His office said the county’s letter failed to “address a multitude of issues raised” in the letter.
Schmitt said the “Reopen STL” order is not adequate.
The attorney general said more than 100 counties in Missouri don’t have any restrictions in place but also have very low numbers. He also said St. Louis County isn’t providing any criteria for ending its current restrictions.
“The relief we’re asking for is that this order is ruled null and void,” Schmitt said. “The government has a burden to prove that if they are going to restrict people’s lives and gather with friends, they have to be able to justify that.”
The county has 30 days to respond and then a judge will decide if the county has been justified in its actions.
A spokesperson for the county executive has accused Schmitt of political posturing.
“We all know Mr. Schmitt is trying to increase his profile statewide, and suing those protecting the health and safety of residents is one of the ways he has chosen to do that,” said Doug Moore, Sam Page’s chief communications director. “Our focus is on getting people vaccinated and on economic recovery.”
Click here to read the full lawsuit.