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ND Supreme Court hears case of hairdresser charged for violating the governor’s executive order

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The State Supreme Court took up the criminal case of a Minot hairdresser facing charges for doing her job, against Gov. Doug Burgum’s executive orders.

Kari Riggin provided cosmetology services to residents of Somerset Court Assisted Living Facility in Minot. According to Riggin’s lawyer, Lynn Boughey, the residents were her only clients, so when she was arrested for continuing to provide services, she could no longer make a living.

The governor’s executive order suspended cosmetology licenses, which Riggin’s lawyer says goes beyond his authority.

“He basically said cosmetologists cannot exercise their trade. He didn’t say, you must for health reasons do the following, he shut that business down, and we think that there is a property interest and a constitutional right to perform your profession,” Boughey said.

The lawyer for the state’s side says the governor is tasked with faithfully executing the laws of the state, and that’s just what he was doing. Even though he argued it’s a broad grant of authority, it’s still within the scope of the governor’s power. He also says employment isn’t recognized as a fundamental right in the constitution.

“She’s treated the same as all other licensed cosmetologists, barbers and other nonessential employees under the order. Her salon has to be closed and she has to cease operations. The governor has the authority to control ingress and egress in a designated disaster or emergency area, the movement of persons within that area, and the occupancy of the premises,” Ethan Lee, the state’s lawyer, said.

The court will issue a ruling on the case likely within the coming weeks.

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