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The Big Board files lawsuit against DC over COVID vaccine mandates

In the lawsuit, they call the emergency acts and orders put in place by the District unconstitutional.

WASHINGTON — A D.C. sports bar that had its liquor license suspended for not enforcing the city's COVID protocols is now suing the city over the vaccine mandates it resisted. 

On Thursday, a lawsuit was filed by The Buckeye Institute on behalf of Eric Flannery, the owner of The Big Board in Northeast, D.C. The lawsuit claims that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser violated protocol by extending her initial public emergency declaration at least 16 times over a two-year period, meaning a court could not review the legality of the executive order; under D.C. law, an order can't be reviewed until it expires. 

"The District of Columbia is unique among American cities -- not only is it our nation's capital, but its laws are subject to congressional review under the Home Rule Act," said Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of The Buckeye Institute in a statement. "By stacking emergency acts and orders for two years, the District evaded congressional review and closed the courthouse doors to Mr. Flannery and thousands of other D.C. residents. This end run around the Home Rule Act made a mockery of congressional review and simultaneously denied Americans their constitutional rights and due process." 

Alt is claiming due process was denied when no challenge was allowed to an executive order that allowed the mayor to require proof of vaccination for patrons to enter most entertainment venues, including bars, restaurants, nightclubs and gyms. 

"D.C. also effectively closed the courthouse doors to District residents in clear violation of due process protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution." Alt said.

In February 2022, the DC Health Department closed the Big Board bar and restaurant for violations of DC code that "presents an imminent health hazard to the public."

The lawsuit is asking for compensatory damages, including the $100 restoration fee the Big Board was required to pay to get back up and running. They also want a federal judge to rule that D.C. violated the District of Columbia's Home Rule Act - Code of the District of Columbia § 7–2308. 

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