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Arizona bars file lawsuit against Gov. Doug Ducey over shutdown

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

PHOENIX — A group of Arizona bar owners has filed a lawsuit contending Gov. Doug Ducey didn’t have the authority to shut them down last week.

Ducey closed bars, nightclubs and select other places of business and recreation for a month on June 29 via executive order since coronavirus cases in the state were on the rise.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday, alleges that Ducey doesn’t have the constitutional authority to shut down any business in the state, including bars, during the pandemic.

“What we’re telling the courts is that we can avoid this constitutional problem by narrowly construing the governor’s authority,” Attorney Ilan Wurman told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday.

Wurman, who is handling the suit, said there’s no confusion about the state being in an emergency.

His claim — and those of the about 20 bar owners named in the lawsuit — is that the authority to make laws rests with the Arizona Legislature, which should in turn issue Ducey guidance.

Ducey has issued several executive orders that have fully or temporarily closed businesses since declaring a state of emergency March 11 using the law the suit says is unconstitutional.

If the Arizona Supreme Court rules in favor of the bar owners, Ducey would no longer have the ability to keep them closed.

That would extend to other Arizona businesses that are currently closed under orders from Ducey.

“These bar owners are small business owners,” Wurman said. “This is their livelihood.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Martha Maurer contributed to this report.

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