Greenville, North Carolina; December 21, 2020: The owners of a popular Greenville bar located in the city’s Uptown District filed a lawsuit today to challenge Gov. Roy Cooper’s discriminatory, unconstitutional emergency shutdown orders, which have kept Club 519’s doors shut from the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 10, Gov. Cooper declared North Carolina to be in a state of emergency. Since then, the governor has issued a series of executive orders that allow nearly every establishment that sells alcoholic beverages to remain open but that force most private bars (establishments which serve alcohol but not food) to remain closed.
“The governor’s executive orders allowed bars in restaurants and hotels — as well as bottle shops, breweries, cideries, distilleries, meaderies, and wineries — to reopen in May, yet Club 519 is still closed,” said Jessica Thompson, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “Such arbitrary action is hardly surprising when the governor has usurped legislative authority to unilaterally control the state’s response to COVID-19. Fortunately for the Waldrons, the North Carolina Constitution prohibits this unequal burden on the fundamental right to earn a living and guarantees the separation of powers in the state.”
Right now, bars can only serve outdoors at a 30 percent capacity, while bars in hotels and restaurants, as well as bottle shops, breweries, cideries, distilleries, meaderies, and wineries, are allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity — indoors and outdoors. Like many private bars in North Carolina, Club 519 has no outdoor space and must remain closed.
Crystal and Kenneth Waldron have spent more than 18 years making Club 519 a popular fixture in Greenville, especially among the locals; but if they don’t reopen soon, they will be forced to close their doors forever and lose their primary source of income.
Represented by PLF free of charge, the Waldrons filed their lawsuit, Crystal Waldron and Club 519 v. Governor Roy A. Cooper, in Wake County Superior Court.
Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 39 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 12 victories out of 14 cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
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