Radio host, pawn store owner filing lawsuit over Gov. Northam’s mask policy

Charlottesville radio host Rob Schilling and a pawn shop owner are suing Governor Ralph Northam and other officials over the mask mandate.
Updated: Jun. 1, 2020 at 10:04 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville radio host Rob Schilling and a pawn shop owner are suing Governor Ralph Northam and other officials over the mask mandate.

Schilling and his lawyer, Matthew Hardin, spoke to the media and supporters Monday, June 1, explaining why this lawsuit was important.

"The legislature made it pretty clear, as I said, decades ago, that masks are illegal in the commonwealth of Virginia. It’s a class six felony,” Hardin said.

Northam announced Tuesday, May 26, that folks would be required to wear masks inside retail shops, restaurants, personal care and grooming establishments, places people congregate, government buildings, and on public transportation. Exceptions will be allowed, including while eating or drinking, exercising, those with trouble breathing, and children under age 10.

The governor has stated enforcement would be done through the Virginia Department of Health - similar to health inspections of restaurants - rather than using law enforcement. Governor’s Chief of Staff Clark Mercer said during Tuesday’s press briefing they are aware of equity and practical issues of enforcement for this policy, and a special session of the General Assembly is expected later this summer.

Tobey Bouch, the owner of Tobey’s Pawn Shop, says he is concerned businesses will be punished for not enforcing the mandate that folks be required to wear a face mask inside retailers.

The Virginia State Health Commissioner, along with Virginia Attorney Mark Herring, and Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Hingeley are also named in the lawsuit.

NBC29 has reached out to Gov. Northam and Hingeley for comments. There has been no response from the governor’s office, but Hingeley said he hasn’t had enough time to look over the lawsuit yet.

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06/01/2020 Release from Matthew D. Hardin:

Charlottesville, VA June 1, 2020 — Radio host and founder, Rob Schilling, and Tobey Bouch, owner, Tobey’s Pawn Shop, are initiating a lawsuit against Virginia Governor, Ralph Northam; Virginia State Health Commissioner, M. Norman Oliver; Virginia Attorney General, Mark Herring; and Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney, Jim Hingeley, in their official capacities.

Greene County-based Attorney, Matthew D. Hardin, will file the Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief on Monday. A press conference will be held on the Lawn in front of the Albemarle County General District Court at 10:00 a.m.

“There is no one above the law,” said Schilling, “and that includes the governor and his minions. Executive Order 63 is legally flawed and must be rescinded.”

Schilling continued, “The public trust has been seriously abused by the Governor’s wanton actions.”

Hardin said that Tobey’s Pawn is concerned for the health and safety of their patrons and his employees.

“The governor has put business owners between a rock and a hard place in suggesting that business entities will be punished for not enforcing his questionable mandates,” Hardin said.

Schilling and Bouch hope the suit will serve as a warning to wayward government officials statewide, that they are bound by law and not by whim.