State Watch

DeSantis files emergency appeal after court rules against him on school mask mandates

Lawyers for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) filed an emergency appeal Wednesday evening after a circuit judge earlier that day rejected a previous appeal from the governor, a move that put his ban on school mask mandates on hold and allows school districts to require face coverings in academic buildings for the time being.

DeSantis’s lawyers are now calling for the automatic stay on his mask mandate ban to be reinstated, which would allow the ban on the mandates to once again take effect.

They are arguing that they “have a high likelihood of success on appeal,” contending that the trial court “abused its discretion in vacating the automatic stay, and this Court should reinstate the stay pending review,” according to the 41-page appeal.

Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper handed down a ruling on Wednesday that rejected DeSantis’s appeal of his earlier ruling, lifting an automatic stay that was put in place following the governor’s appeal.

DeSantis had appealed Cooper’s previous decision which said the governor had overreached, and that the state’s new “Parents’ Bill of Rights” does not permit him or the Florida Department of Education to bar school districts from mandating masks.

Wednesday’s decision put DeSantis’s mask mandate ban — which requires districts to offer parents the ability to opt their children out of mask requirements or face a financial penalty — on hold as the appeal makes its way through a higher court.

Despite the ruling, however, the state Department of Health has already made efforts to cut funding from some school districts that require students and teachers to wear masks.

The governor’s lawyers, in their most recent appeal, said the Parents’ Bill of Rights “limits governmental authority and protects the inherent rights of parents.”

“Thus, the Governor could not possibly have violated the Parents’ Bill of Rights by protecting parents’ rights. Most assuredly, the Parents’ Bill of Rights does not grant any authority to local school districts that did not previously exist,” the lawyers added.

Taryn Fenske, communications director for DeSantis, told The Hill in a statement that the governor’s office believes the appellate court will make a ruling on the appeal quickly.

“No surprise here that Judge Cooper concluded that he is unlikely to be overruled on appeal. We [unsurprisingly] disagree. Yesterday we filed our emergency motion to reinstate the stay, and we anticipate the appellate court will rule quickly, much like during the school re-opening case last year,” Fenske said.

DeSantis’s Wednesday appeal is the latest in the drama involving mask mandates in Florida schools.

A number of districts in the state have challenged the governor’s ban, taking the issue to court.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) have also prohibited mask mandates in schools.

Tags Courts Doug Ducey Florida Greg Abbott Mask mandate ban mask mandates Ron DeSantis

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