Louisiana attorney general says governor's mask mandate, other restrictions 'likely unconstitutional and unenforceable'

Louisiana attorney general says governor's mask mandate, other restrictions 'likely unconstitutional and unenforceable'
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Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) said Wednesday that the governor’s mask mandate and other public health ordinances are “likely unconstitutional and unenforceable.”

In a nine-page legal opinion released Wednesday, Landry responded to inquiries from Republican state lawmakers and law enforcement leaders asking about the mandates issued by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Edwards on Saturday announced a statewide mask mandate and new restrictions for bars amid the surging coronavirus pandemic. 

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“The governor’s recent mandate does not appear to serve achieving any type of goal or mission in a manner consistent with statutory authority and constitutional provisions,” Landry wrote. 

Landry’s legal opinion does not change law, but sets his interpretation of the mandate should it be contested in a state court. Landry said that law enforcement agencies could potentially face litigation if they enforce the mask order.

"Although the mask mandate and the 50-person limit may be good recommendations for personal safety, they may not be enforced with financial or criminal penalties," Landry wrote. "Both businesses acting under color of law as mask police and actual police acting as mask police could face liability if individual civil rights are violated due to the proclamation." 

On Tuesday Landry announced that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and as a result would not meet Vice President Pence when he arrives in the state later in the day.

Louisiana is one of several states currently experiencing a surge in cases. This week it joined Texas, Mississippi and Alabama – all Republican-led states — in issuing state mask mandates.