In which states has the court ordered pandemic payments to be reinstated?
So far workers in three states have challenged through the courts their governor’s decision to unilaterally end enhanced unemployment benefits early.
A judge in Indiana has placed an injunction on the state stopping the financial assistance ordering the reinstatement of payments. Last week workers in Maryland and Texas joined Indiana in taking their state's governor to court over the decision to end federal pandemic unemployment benefits.
Starting in early May, Republican governors across the US announced that their states would no longer participate in the federal unemployment programs set up last year to help those laid off due to the pandemic. Only two of the 27 Republican state governors have bucked the trend following most Democrat-led states in continuing the unemployment payments until they expire in September.
Likewise, a handful of Republican state legislatures are pushing Democrat governors to follow suit. So far only Governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana has announced he will end his state’s participation at the end of July after reaching an agreement with the State Legislature.
Indiana judge’s decision could bode ill for other states
When granting a preliminary injunction on Indiana’s suspension of the enhanced unemployment compensation programs on Friday, Marion Superior Court Judge John Hanley said that the harm created by terminating the benefits far outweighed any risks to the state while the lawsuit is pending resolution. "A loss of housing or medical care and the inability to provide food, shelter and adequate childcare for a family constitute irreparable harm pending resolution of this cause of action and are not adequately compensable by an award of damages," Judge Hanley wrote.
Judge Hanly said that there was a "preponderance of evidence" to demonstrate Governor Eric Holcomb violated state law which says that the state must “procure all available federal insurance benefits to citizens." Governor Holcomb announced in May that Indiana would stop federal enhanced unemployment payments starting 19 June.
Speaking to Yahoo Money Andrew Stettner, an unemployment insurance expert and senior fellow at the Century Foundation said "The decision by Judge Hanley was a breakthrough, as many states have similar state law provisions that could be brought up in court." He added "I expect more judges to be sympathetic to the facts in the cases."
Lawsuits currently pending in Texas and Maryland
Through Facebook two separate groups of jobless aid recipients, Texas Unemployment Updates and Unemployment Petition and Peaceful Protest, filed a temporary restraining order on Thursday. The 30,000-plus members among the two groups say that Governor Abbott did not have the legal authority to take the decision on his own, but that it should be determined by the Texas Workforce Commission.
A judge denied the temporary restraining order on Friday over concerns that the litigants didn’t have standing but that perhaps standing would exist with the Texas Workforce Commission. Attorney David Sibley intends to file an injunction to reinstate unemployment payments which ended 26 June for around one million Texans.
The Unemployed Workers Union, an advocacy group organized by the People’s Power Assembly to help people obtain benefits, on Thursday filed a class-action lawsuit in Baltimore Circuit Court against Governor Larry Hogan's order to end the federal programs 3 July. The group is also seeking to secure benefits for people whose cases have been pending in the state’s claims system. The attorney representing the workers, Alec Summerfield, said that he wants a hearing on the motion for an injunction early this week.