Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced his administration has appealed a legal ruling striking down his July executive order banning mask mandates. DeSantis initially signed the order to prevent school districts from imposing district-wide mask mandates on students.
DeSantis has previously cited the recently signed “Parental Bill of Rights” legislation ensuring parents have the right to make healthcare decisions for their children, including wearing or not wearing masks.
Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper struck down the order saying rights can be limited if others’ rights are impacted.
“We don’t have that right because exercising the right in that way is harmful or potentially harmful to other people,” Cooper said. He continued by saying the law “is full of examples of rights that are limited (when) the good of others … would be adversely affected by those rights.”
Referencing the appeal, DeSantis maintained he is trying to defend the rights of the parents.
“Ultimately, we are just trying to stand with the parents,” DeSantis said. “We think it’s important that they are given the ability to opt out.”
Numerous school districts in Florida have decided to impose a mask mandate regardless and are facing penalties for the decision. Leon County Schools (LCS) in Tallahassee, for example, began the school year with a parental opt-out form for their children to be able to not wear a mask in school. LCS Superintendent Rocky Hanna has since announced they are reversing their decision and imposing a mask mandate without an opt-out form.
The fight between the DeSantis administration and local school districts has been previously described as being in a state of “legal limbo” since Cooper’s ruling has yet to officially go into written effect and since the state filed the appeal while the ruling was only operating through oral arguments, the appeal puts an immediate stay on Cooper’s ruling.
School districts must now comply with the executive order until the appeal ruling is decided.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) has entered the fray issuing her legal take on mask mandates and rogue districts defying state law.
Moody said districts must allow parents to opt-out their children from mask requirements “unless and until the judiciary declares them invalid.”
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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and the Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Photo “Ron DeSantis” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY 2.0. Background Photo “Girls in Masks” by Mitrey.