Judge Slaps Down DeSantis School Mask Ban Because Giving Kids COVID Is ... Bad Actually?

Legal

Where does Florida Governor Ron DeSantis go to get his apology? Not Leon County Circuit Court, that's for sure, because Judge John Cooper just dropkicked DeSantis's ban on school mask mandates, ruling that it violates the state's constitution. DeSantis had argued that Florida's Parents' Bill of Rights banned mask mandates, but the court held that it was actually DeSantis breaking that very law with his executive order.

Womp womp.

Perhaps Governor Ron, a graduate of Harvard Law, should have taken the time to read the actual statute. Here's what it says:

The state, any of its political subdivisions, any other governmental entity, or any other institution may not infringe on the fundamental rights of a parent to direct the upbringing, education, health care, and mental health of his or her minor child without demonstrating that such action is reasonable and necessary to achieve a compelling state interest and that such action is narrowly tailored and is not otherwise served by a less restrictive means.

The state insisted that school districts that require kids to wear masks during a global pandemic which is killing upwards of one hundred Floridians a day are violating the "fundamental rights of a parent to direct the upbringing, education, health care, and mental health" of their children.


"It is not one or the other, it is both. You can protect public health and have parent choice," the state's lawyer Michael Abel said in court, without explaining how parents choosing to let their kids spew droplets all over each other could coexist with measures to protect public health. "The governor's executive order reflects a careful balancing of those interests involving children and parents, safety and health."

But the parents who sued him countered that it was DeSantis himself infringing on their rights to elect school boards to make policy based on IRL science, not the refusal to deviate from Republican dogma in the lead-up to a presidential run.

"Despite that reality, despite all of the science, the governor has sought to insert himself into matters of local health concerns and impede the ability of school boards to do what they are constitutionally mandated to do, which is to operate and control their schools," the plaintiffs' attorney Craig Whisenhunt told the court.

And the court agreed, because yeah, no shit we're in the middle of the biggest public health crisis in our lifetimes.

"I conclude that this evidence demonstrates that facemask policies that follow CDC guidance are, at this point in time, reasonable and consistent with the best scientific and medical and public opinion guidance at this time," Judge Cooper said, announcing his ruling from the bench. "I am enforcing the bill passed by the Legislature and requiring that anyone who uses that bill has to follow all of the provisions, not some of the provisions."

Florida is facing a massive COVID spike, demolishing DeSantis's intemperate boasts about having vanquished the virus without any of them dirty socialist-style public health measures. That dipshit's PAC is literally selling "Don't Fauci My Florida" merch.

It was stupid when they posted this tweet in mid-July, but looks downright ghoulish now, the day after Florida announced another 901 coronavirus deaths. (Florida, of course, reports weekly.) Which is perhaps why 10 school districts, comprising more than half of Florida's students, were already defying DeSantis and forcing kids to wear masks in school. And because DeSantis is a major dick, he was threatening to withhold state funding from schools in an amount equal to the salaries of every school board member who voted in favor of the mandate.

Judge Cooper's holding, which will absolutely be appealed, doesn't strike DeSantis's order per se. Instead it blocks the Florida Department of Education from taking any steps to enforce it. So, thank God — and a sane trial judge — for small favors.

[Miami Herald / News 4 Jax / NPR]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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