Missouri Ends Lockdown Case

Missouri Ends Lockdown Case

Missouri Ends Lockdown Case

Re: Legality of Covid Lockdowns & Emergency Measures


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Facts of the Case

aka: Shannon v. Missouri Department of Health

  • Dates: Nov 22, 2021
  • Location: Cole County, Missouri, USA
  • Court: Cole County Circuit Court of Missouri
  • Case #: 20AC-CC00515
  • Plaintiff: Shannon Robinson, et al.
  • Defendant: Missouri Department of Health
  • Trial Type:
  • Judge: Daniel Green
  • Status: End
  • Verdict: For The Plaintiff



“A group of St. Louis-area residents and business owners filed against the state Department of Health and Senior Services to challenge” covid restrictions (2)

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and County Executive Sam Page in July issued a joint mask order that required people to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces. (2)

St. Louis County’s mandate for face coverings in public spaces has been the target of a lawsuit from the state attorney general and a source of contention among politicians and residents. (2)



  • This Case effectively “ended ALL the state’s Covid measures” (1)
  • Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green ruled that orders such as quarantines and business closures violate the Missouri Constitution’s separation of powers clause affecting the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.(3)

  • The circuit court judge “declared a Missouri law that enables local health departments to issue public health orders unconstitutional and is ordering officials to lift such rules.” (2)

  • The ruling by Cole County Judge Daniel Green calls into question the future of mask mandates and other local health orders created to stem the spread of the coronavirus. (2)


Plaintiff’s Argument

. (1)


Defendant’s Argument

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt represented the state in the suit. (2)



  • “This case is about whether Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services regulations can abolish representative government in the creation of public health laws, and whether it can authorize closure of a school or assembly based on the unfettered opinion of an unelected official,” the judge wrote in his ruling. “This Court finds it cannot.” (2)
  • The Court found that the Department of Health’s regulations CANNOT “abolish representative government in the creation of public health laws,” and CANNOT “authorize closure of a school or assembly based on the unfettered opinion of an unelected official.” (1)
  • The Court didn’t just find a technical reason to set aside the DOH’s emergency rules. Instead, the Court found that the ORIGINAL state statutes giving the DOH its emergency authority were themselves completely invalid, for four separate reasons, because the statutes: (1)
  1. violate constitutional separation of powers
  2. violate the state’s administrative procedure act
  3. are inconsistent with other public health laws; and
  4. violate constitutional equal protection. 


“[DOH] regulations break our three-branch system of government in ways that a middle-school civics student would recognize, because they place the creation of orders or laws, and enforcement of those laws, into the hands of an unelected official.” (1)

The Court cited a 2020 Michigan Supreme Court case (1):

“It is incumbent on the courts to ensure decisions are made according to the rule of law, not hysteria … One hopes that this great principle — essential to any free society, including ours — will not itself become yet another casualty of Covid-19.” (1)


  • The Court found that the Missouri emergency health statutes were constitutionally flawed because they create “double delegation.” The judge said the state had delegated rulemaking power to the DOH, which then delegated “broad rulemaking power to an unelected official.” This type of double delegation, said the Court, “is an impermissible combination of legislative and administrative power.” It also explained that the regulations “violate the principle of separation of powers by unlawfully placing unguided and unbridled rulemaking power in the hands of a public official.” (1)
  • The judge cited, among other cases, Florida’s lawsuit against the CDC’s “conditional sailing order.” Relying on the cited cases, he listed all the ways that the state’s public health statutes violated separation of powers:(1)
  1. the statutes created “open-ended discretion—a catch-all to permit naked lawmaking by bureaucrats;”
  2. the laws failed to provide any STANDARDS to guide local emergency orders;
  3. the laws not only provided no standards, but they are “limitless, standardless, and lack adequate legislative guidance;”
  4. the laws fail to “provide any procedural safeguards for those aggrieved by the orders;” and
  5. they “create a system of statewide health governance that enables unelected officials to become accountable to no one.”


  • The judge wrote that plaintiff Robinson had produced “ample evidence” that local health supervisors used the emergency health laws to “exercise unbridled and unfettered personal authority to, in effect, legislate.”(1)

The judge stated: 

“Local health directors have created generally applicable orders, both in writing and verbally, requiring individuals within their jurisdictions to wear masks, limit gathering sizes in people’s own homes, creating capacity restrictions, limiting usage of school and business facilities including tables, desks, and even lockers, mandating spacing between people, [and] ordering students be excluded from school via quarantine and isolation rules created by health directors based on masking or other criteria not adequately” constrained by legal standards.(1)

  • The Court held that the statutes’ authorization of local health directors to create and enforce their own orders, and take other “control measures” were “unconstitutional and … therefore invalid.”(1)

The judge concluded:

“[t]his system is entirely inconsistent with representative government and separation of powers and makes a mockery of our Missouri Constitution and the concept of separation of powers.”….“Missouri’s local health authorities have grown accustomed to issuing edicts and coercing compliance. It is far past time for this unconstitutional conduct to stop.”(1)


  • The Court’s actual orders were:
  1. among other things, the judge instructed the Secretary of State to “remov[e] the invalid regulations from the register” — which effectively deletes all the state’s emergency public health statutes. (1)
  2. He also ordered the Missouri DOH to “provide a copy of this order to all local health authorities throughout Missouri, and to post it … in locations where the same is made publicly available[.]”(1)
  3. Then he ordered the Department of Health to pay all the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees.(1)



  • St. Louis County government attorneys have determined the ruling does not affect its rules, since it is not involved in the case, county spokesman Doug Moore said. (2)

“St. Louis County is not a party to that lawsuit,” Moore wrote in a statement. “The next hearing in the St. Louis County mask case is Nov. 30. We hope everyone will follow the masking and social distancing practices that public health experts recommend over the Thanksgiving holidays.” (2)

  • In St. Louis, city lawyers think the ruling does not apply because the city’s health orders were not enacted under the rule that was overturned, a representative for Jones said. The city is operating under the legislature’s June law requiring legislative bodies to pass a mandate every 30 days and the city’s charter gives the Board of Aldermen the authority to enact health orders by resolution once they are issued. (2)

“In short, our opinion at this point is that the ruling out of Cole County does not apply to us because we weren’t operating under that rule that was overturned,” said Nick Dunne, the mayor’s spokesman in a voicemail. (2)


  • A spokesman for Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt who represented the state in the suit said: “We’re aware of the Court’s ruling and are prepared to enforce compliance with the Court’s order across the state,” (2)
  • It would be unusual for the attorney general not to appeal this ruling, said James R. Layton, a former state solicitor general. (2)

“I can’t think of an instance in the past where a declaration that a regulation was invalid was not appealed, especially one that would have this broad of impact,” ….The ruling does not necessarily mean every health mandate enacted by a local government is void….“The judge has ruled that the Department of Health and Senior Services regulation that expressly gives local health authorities the ability to act, that that regulation is invalid,” Layton said. “But I really don’t know how many of the regulations that are currently in place were implemented in reliance on that authority.”(2)

  • Local government advocates said the ruling sets a worrying precedent.

“We are concerned about the erosion of local authority in many areas, including public health,” said Richard Sheets, executive director of the Missouri Municipal League, the statewide group of local government officials. “Our city officials are split on mask mandates … [but] what we do oppose is the state taking away a locally elected governing body’s authority to make local decisions.” (2)


Further Research




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