Reopen Maryland is a grass roots, nonpartisan group representing nearly 26,000 Marylanders. We advocate for an end to the overly broad, economically and socially destructive shutdown and lockdown policies that have injured countless Maryland families and businesses and had a chilling effect upon civil rights.
Our Beginning. Reopen Maryland began as a Facebook page on April 11 and became a Facebook Group the next day – Easter Sunday. Over the 5 ensuing weeks we reached 25,000 members. We continue to grow at about 2,000 per week.
Our Founders. We were started by a Baltimore County couple who was frustrated with the closure of schools, particularly special education programs. We have let them stay in the background with others being the face of the group. Our Leaders. Ten of us, give or take, are in the group leadership. Some are experienced activists while others are totally new to the game. Like you they want all Marylanders to be able to return to their lives. All leaders are volunteers who are not compensated for our work or our expenses.
Business Organization. We formed an LLC to be our business entity and to support fundraising for litigation. The directors are Tim Walters of Linthicum, Evie Harris of Baltimore, and Jim Wass of Riverdale. Walters is our chairman and Wass is both secretary and organization counsel. Other group leaders are not part of the LLC but are kept informed of LCC activities.
Facebook Group. Reopen Maryland has a Facebook group, provides a forum for tens of thousands of Marylanders to share news and information on the COVID closures and efforts to Reopen Maryland. Find this group at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1607627356058954/
Events/Demonstrations. We hold events such as our #ReopenMDGridlockAnnapolis on April 18 and the May 2 #ReopenMarylandCrossState road rally. We cooperate with other regional and local groups in their events such as the May 9 #GridlockOceanCity.
Press and Letter Advocacy. We regularly issue press releases and encourage our members to write to our public officials. Fundraising. Our only fundraising at present is for litigation, both lawyer fees and other litigation expenses described below. We can receive your contributions through our GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/f/Reopen-Maryland-LLC or mail your check (see below).
Litigation. We currently are participating in litigation as an organization plaintiff in Antietam Battlefield et al v. Hogan et al, filed in Federal Court on May 2, 2020.
Plaintiffs. We joined 18 other plaintiffs including 2 small businesses with large financial losses, 2 disabled veterans unable to receive needed therapies, 4 legislators constrained in representing their constituencies, and 10 pastors and deacons limited in serving their flocks.
Defendants. Defendants in the suit are Governor Hogan and several other state officials who are ordering or implementing the COVID restrictions.
The Claims and Requested Relief. All plaintiffs are claiming constitutional rights violations and asking declaratory or injunctive relief – they are asking the courts to order elimination or relaxation of the Governor’s COVID restrictions.
Will we win? Maybe, maybe not, maybe in part. There are lots of suits filed all over the country. Some are winning and some are not, but all are putting pressure on leaders to give us back our lives. This lawsuit is part of an integrated whole that includes our letters, press releases, gridlocks, road rallies, pickets, and anything else we can do to reopen Maryland.
Lawyers. Plaintiffs are represented by Del. Dan Cox who filed the suit and is also a plaintiff as well as by John Garza. Del. Cox will be working pro bono (without compensation other than expenses) and Mr. Garza will be charging reasonable fees and attempting to distribute work to other attorneys as is possible. There is much work to do.
Legal Fees. Some of you have asked about contingency fees. While these are appropriate in a suit for money damages (such as the lost income of a small business), our suit asks for none. Such suits might be filed later by some individual plaintiffs. So, we must be able to pay reasonable hourly fees and important expenses such as for expert witnesses. These might be experts such as an epidemiologist or infectious disease specialist that can present views and theories contrary to those of the Governor’s experts. Again, fees and expenses take money. Donate online or by mail.