On July 1, 2020, the American Freedom Law Center filed a civil rights lawsuit against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Commissioner of the New York Department of Health, challenging the Governor’s recent order, Executive Order 205, which requires all persons who travel to New York from certain “restricted” States to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. A violation of the order could result in criminal and civil penalties, including a civil penalty of up to $10,000.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York on behalf of Cynthia Page, a resident of Arizona who had to cancel her travel plans to New York due to the Governor’s order.
As set forth in the Complaint, “The right to travel is a virtually unconditional personal right, guaranteed by the Constitution to us all.” This fundamental right is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment and by the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The Complaint alleges, in relevant part, the following:
“A regulation that has the effect of imposing a penalty on the exercise of the right to travel violates the Equal Protection Clause unless shown to be necessary to promote a compelling governmental interest. Executive Order 205 and its implementing guidance and regulations impose a penalty on the right to travel and thus violate the Equal Protection Clause because they are not necessary to promote a compelling governmental interest.”
“Executive Order 205 and its implementing guidance and regulations discriminate against individuals because they reside in or travel from certain ‘restricted’ States. This disparate treatment is arbitrary and capricious, and it has no rational basis, particularly since a perfectly healthy person from one of the ‘restricted’ States is prohibited from traveling to New York but a person with COVID-19 from a State that is not ‘restricted’ can travel to and throughout New York with impunity. This disparate treatment violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
The lawsuit seeks a declaration that the travel restriction is unconstitutional and an order enjoining its enforcement.
CASE UPDATE (July 9, 2020): We filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. A hearing is set for August 9, 2020.