Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Leahy was joined on the newsmaker line by Tennessee State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson to weigh in on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling to allow mask mandates to stay after a long Tennessee General Assembly special session.
Leahy: We are joined on a newsmaker line now by our very good friend, State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson. Good morning, Jack.
Johnson: Good morning, Michael. Good to be with you.
Leahy: Probably turn your volume up a little bit, Jack, because I think the fix is in from the left. The governor signs the COVID-19 bill that the special session of the General Assembly put together. And immediately the left goes and files with the federal court.
Waverley D. Crenshaw, who is a federal district judge appointed, I know shock, shock, shock by Barack Obama. Sunday afternoon he says, oh, no, because of the Americans for Disability Act, this law is not constitutional, and he stays it.
But I looked at the law Jack, and I think you crafted it very carefully. There’s plenty of provisions for accommodating those with disabilities. Your thoughts?
Johnson: Absolutely, Michael. We did contemplate that in the original lawsuit that enjoined the governor’s parental opt-out executive order to require schools to allow parents to opt their kids out. That was what the plaintiff cited was not providing accommodations for kids with special needs.
Okay, we get that. We recognize it. We address that in the bill that we filed and passed that I sponsored in the Senate during our special session. We addressed that. And not only are districts allowed but they’re required to make an accommodation for those kids with special needs.
So we addressed the very issue that the judge used in joining the governor’s executive order on the mask mandate or parental opt-out. And you’re exactly right, the fix this in.
Did you ever begin to just feel like you were under assault from all levels of the federal government? You’ve got the president of the United States who, with the stroke of a pen, says every American who works for an employer that employs 100 people or more has to be vaccinated.
Blatantly unconstitutional and illegal. I don’t even have to get into Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and what they’re doing. And now we have a federal district judge appointed by a Democrat, as you said, unelected, unaccountable, who with the stroke of a pen, stop a duty, and constitutionally passed piece of legislation that we put a lot of time and hard work into to try to protect the medical freedoms of Tennessee. And with the stroke of a pen, it’s gone.
Leahy: The governor, he signed the bill on Friday.
Johnson: He did it Friday afternoon.
Leahy: Okay, so he signed the bill Friday afternoon. The billionaire-funded left-wing lawyers that are affiliated with the very questionable Mark Elias filed the lawsuit, asking for a stay of the mask. The very carefully crafted mask elements of Tennessee on Saturday.
The judge, I don’t think this Obama appointed Judge Waverley D. Crenshaw, Jr. even read the law. I think he just issued the stay. How could he make that decision claiming it violates the Americas for Disabilities act when the law itself had innumerable provisions to provide for disabled kids?
Johnson: That is a great question. And it’s very questionable the timing on a Sunday afternoon issuing that order. There was an ’emergency hearing’ that took place yesterday. He continued this day, with more hearings to take place, I believe, later this week on Friday.
But again, for a judge just with the stroke of a pen to undo the work of the Tennessee General Assembly that called itself into session and spent three full days not to count the hours and hours and days that went into that legislation in advance of the special session, that’s when most of the work was taking place, with our attorneys looking at the law, figuring out how we can protect Tennessee’s medical liberties while at the same time crafting a piece of legislation that will withstand judicial scrutiny.
We did that. It clearly does that it. And it addresses the other concerns. And yet still, with the stroke of a pen, it’s not enforced. It should be enforced right now. There are kids showing up at schools today forced to wear masks when state law prohibits that. They shouldn’t able to overturn that.
Leahy: The interesting thing about that, there’s a story last night, none of you saw this, but the Williamson County school board voted, apparently was seven to five to follow the state law and not pay attention to the federal district judges. So today in Williamson County schools, kids can show up without a mask. I don’t know if you saw that.
Johnson: I watched every bit of it. I watched the Williamson County School board meeting. I did it. I’m very proud of them for taking that action, and they did the right thing. I would argue they probably should have never implemented a mask mandate, but they did the right thing in removing it.
But you and I both know that there are districts in Shelby County, Davidson County, and others that will not take such an action. And those kids are going to school today forced to wear a mask when it’s absolutely unnecessary.
Leahy: Yes, absolutely. You are right about that. So where does this go? Let’s talk about Attorney General Herb Slatery. He’s going to contest this stay in court, isn’t he? When will that happen?
Johnson: Absolutely. And the attorney general will be defending the law that we passed. And I’m confident in their ability to aggressively fight it and that they will d. So as this continues with this particular judge, Judge Crenshaw, as the hearings continue and again, I believe they’re scheduled to resume later this week.
Hopefully, they can go in and make the argument and actually explain the law that we passed, how it addresses the concerns that have been brought up previously, and he will reverse this decision and allow the law to go back into place. If not, then, of course, we will appeal it. We’ll take it up to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and we’ll fight it all the way to the supreme court.
Leahy: And you’ll win. I think you’ll win.
Johnson: I believe we will. And listen, I’ve said it time and time again. Tennessee will be a leader in standing up against this federal overreach because it’s here to stay.
With President Biden and his administration in place for the next three years, they’re going to continue to try to trample on our 10th Amendment rights.
And I know there are other states. Florida, Texas, Wyoming, and South Dakota. We like-minded conservative States that believe in the 10th amendment of the United States Constitution has to continue to fight this administration, whether it’s legislatively or through litigation. And as long as I have anything to do with the Tennessee General Assembly, Tennessee will be at the forefront of that fight.
Leahy: We got a new nickname for you Fighting Jack Johnson. I love to hear that steel in your spine. (Johnson chuckles) Thank you so much for joining us today.
Johnson: You bet, Michael. Thanks for having me on.
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 am to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson” by Jack Johnson.