Judge stops Maryland from cutting off federal unemployment benefits — for now

A Baltimore City Circuit Judge has granted a temporary restraining order stopping Maryland from cutting off federal unemployment benefits on Saturday.

Circuit Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill issued an opinion in the case after hearing arguments on Friday.

“There is a significant public interest in continuing those benefits, perhaps even a predominant public interest,” Fletcher-Hill wrote in his opinion.

The judge said he came to the conclusions that the plaintiff’s showed “immediate, substantial, irreparable harm” in the case.

The federal unemployment benefits were set to expire at midnight on Saturday.

“As our state works to recover and rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic, many Marylanders are still grappling with its devastating impacts,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, of Maryland, in a statement. “Today’s Circuit Court ruling was the right one – noting that the Governor’s plan inflicted ‘immediate, substantial, irreparable harm’ – and this order will put the needs of Marylanders first. I will continue fighting to support our workers, families, small businesses, and communities with the resources they need to build back better.”

The expanded benefits program, funded through a federal stimulus, was created by Congress to continue through early September.

Gov. Larry Hogan announced in June that he would suspend the program early, which he said was necessary to rejuvenate the state’s economy.

WTOP’s Nardos Mesmer contributed to this report.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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