DeSantis order barring masks in schools faces first legal challenges
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) ban on mask mandates in schools has received its first legal challenges in the form of two lawsuits that were filed on Friday, challenging the executive order’s constitutionality.
Attorney Barry Silver filed one of the lawsuits on behalf of his client, a father of three who has one child who is currently ineligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and has a history of childhood asthma, CNN reported.
“Florida is among the states with the highest number of Covid-19 victims in the country, and the number of afflicted people is growing rapidly. The danger to Plaintiff and his children and all others they come into contact with is severe, unreasonable, and growing by the day,” the suit states, pointing to Florida’s state constitution, which says that “adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools.”
The second lawsuit was filed on behalf of the parents of school-aged children across Florida and argues that the state’s constitution guarantees a safe school environment and provides counties with the ability to govern themselves.
“They are framing this as a parent choice issue when this is really a public health issue,” Charles Gallagher, an attorney involved in the case, told CNN.
“The Constitution is equal justice under [the] law and therefore we think that we are on the right side of these facts,” Gallagher added.
DeSantis has exchanged blows with President Biden over mask mandates, with the president telling DeSantis and other governors who have banned mask requirements to “at least get out of the way of people who are trying to do the right thing.”
“Why don’t you do your job? Why don’t you get this border secure? And until you do that, I don’t want to hear a blip about COVID from you,” DeSantis said at a news conference after Biden’s remark.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida has reported more than 2.7 million COVID-19 cases so far and currently has a an average seven-day positivity rate of between 20 and 25 percent.
CNN notes that although Florida accounts for about 7 percent of the U.S. population, about 1 in 5 new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have been reported there over the past few weeks.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona appeared to echo Biden’s message to governors.
When asked what he would say to governors such as DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) about their mask mandate bans, Cardona said, “Don’t be the reason why schools are interrupted. Kids have suffered enough.”