State Watch

Virginia AG seeks dismissal of suit over Youngkin’s mask order

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) filed court documents with the Virginia Supreme Court on Thursday to dismiss a lawsuit brought by parents against Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) executive order on masks in schools.

Shortly after taking office, Youngkin signed an executive order to make masking in public schools optional, drawing criticism as well as praise. 

A group of Chesapeake parents sued Youngkin for not keeping the mask mandate requirement, saying he is violating a law they believe made masking conditional as part of school reopenings when former Gov. Ralph Northam (D) was in charge, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported

In Miyares’s move for a dismissal, he told the Supreme Court that Youngkin is upholding the “fundamental right” parents have in the education of their children. 

The parents argued in their case that Youngkin’s order conflicts with a law that says schools must follow guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to the local outlet. The CDC encourages students to mask at school.

Miyares said in the suit the CDC does not explicitly support mask mandates and, even if they did, Youngkin’s executive order still would not conflict with the law. 

“And even if the CDC issued something other than recommendations, Senate Bill 1303 would not require rigid adherence to every CDC promulgation; instead, the bill explicitly provides that in-person instruction should be provided in a manner which adheres ‘to the maximum extent practicable, to any currently applicable mitigation strategies’ provided by the CDC for childcare and education programs,” he said.

The attorney for the parents, Kevin Martingayle, argues the executive order creates a new law and cancels the old one, a power Youngkin does not possess, Times-Dispatch reported.

Martingayle said the lawsuit was filed directly to the state’s Supreme Court so the parents can get a timely answer.

“Tonight, we asked the Supreme Court of Virginia to protect the fundamental rights of parents to direct the upbringing, care, and education of their children. Governor Youngkin had every power to issue the executive order and with our filing, we again affirm that parents matter,” Miyares said.

Since the executive order, some school boards have voted to keep the mask requirement while others voted to abolish the mandate.

The Hill has reached out to Martingayle for comment.

Tags Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic Glenn Youngkin Governor of Virginia Jason Miyares Times-Dispatch

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