Story at a glance
- A Florida circuit judge ruled Friday that school districts in the state can legally impose mask mandates.
- Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper sided with parents who challenged the governor’s decision as unconstitutional.
- Cooper argued that government actions necessary to protect public welfare are exempt from such an order.
A Florida circuit judge ruled Friday that school districts in the state can legally impose a mask mandate, despite Gov. Ron DeSantis' (R) order prohibiting schools from delivering such requirements.
Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper sided with parents who challenged the governor’s decision as unconstitutional, saying DeSantis’ order is “without legal authority,” The Associated Press reported.
DeSantis had previously threatened to impose financial sanctions on districts that failed to comply with his mask mandate ban as numerous school districts openly challenged the governor.
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Cooper also reportedly argued that government actions necessary to protect public welfare are exempt from such an order, adding that individual rights are protected insofar as they do not endanger the rights of others.
“We don’t have that right because exercising the right in that way is harmful or potentially harmful to other people,” Cooper said, according to the AP. He added that the law “is full of examples of rights that are limited (when) the good of others ... would be adversely affected by those rights.”
DeSantis’ Communications Director Taryn Fenske said in a statement that it is “not surprising” that the judge would rule in favor of elected politicians instead of “parent’s rights and their ability to make the best educational and medical decisions for their family.”
“This ruling was made with incoherent justifications, not based in science and facts – frankly not even remotely focused on the merits of the case presented,” Fenske’s statement read.
“We will continue to defend the law and parent’s rights in Florida, and will immediately appeal the ruling to the First District Court of Appeals, where we are confident we will prevail on the merits of the case,” the statement concluded.
A new AP-NORC poll found that despite mask mandate battles within several states, most Americans favor mandated face coverings in school settings. According to the poll, 60 percent of adults feel both teachers and students should wear masks in schools. Another 59 percent agree that vaccines should be required for educators.
The daily average of new COVID-19 cases in Florida as of Aug. 26 was around 22,500, marking a 6 percent increase over a 14 day period. Average daily deaths also increased with the state reporting more than 240 per day.
Approximately 63 percent of the state’s total population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine while 52 percent are fully vaccinated.
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