One liberal judge should not be able to stop the action of a governor elected by many. A judge in Arkansas ruled against Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s decision to halt pandemic unemployment benefits, ordering the state to resume them despite business owners saying they make it very hard to hire back staff. On Wednesday, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Herbert Wright issued a preliminary injunction for the state to get federal approval to resume the benefits. Wright argued that the decision to end the payments was to be made by the Arkansas Legislature, not the governor.
“The court has serious doubts that the Governor and the Director of Workforce Services were acting within the scope of their duties, as these decisions would normally be the subject of legislation from the General Assembly,” he wrote. Wright also ordered the state to provide written proof if the federal government denies its request to resume the payments.
The decision comes two months after Hutchinson ordered the state to end its participation in the additional benefits after June 26, while they were scheduled to run through September. Arkansas, like many other states, saw many complaints from employers who claimed to have a hard time getting people to come back to work due to the benefits. A recent poll by Morning Consult found that more than 1.8 million unemployed Americans have turned down jobs throughout the pandemic due to the generosity of the unemployment benefits. Of the 5,000 surveyed who were actively collecting the benefits, 29 percent said they turned down job offers, according to the poll.