It looks like another pandemic-related issue is headed to the Supreme Court, after a Florida judge struck down a ban on mask mandates issued by Governor Ron DeSantis, according to the Associated Press.
DeSantis 'overstepped his authority' by issuing an executive order banning the mandates, according to Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper, ruling that the EO was unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.
The order, which gave parents the sole right to decide if their child will wear a mask at school, was deemed by Cooper to be "without legal authority."
His decision came after a three-day virtual hearing, and after at least 10 Florida school boards voted to defy DeSantis and impose mask requirements with no parental opt-out.
Cooper said that while the governor and others have argued that a new Florida law gives parents the ultimate authority to oversee health issues for their children, it also exempts government actions that are needed to protect public health and are reasonable and limited in scope. He said a school district’s decision to require student masking to prevent the spread of the virus falls within that exemption.
The judge also noted that two Florida Supreme Court decisions from 1914 and 1939 found that individual rights are limited by their impact on the rights of others. For example, he said, adults have the right to drink alcohol but not to drive drunk. There is a right to free speech, but not to harass or threaten others or yell “fire” in a crowded theater, he said. -AP
"We don’t have that right because exercising the right in that way is harmful or potentially harmful to other people," said Cooper, adding that the law is "full of examples of rights that are limited (when) the good of others ... would be adversely affected by those rights."
Meanwhile, here's Florida's R0 vs. California - the universally recognized indicator of how contagious an infectious disease is.
School districts representing more than half of Florida's 2.8 million public school students have defied DeSantis' order, according to the report. In response, DeSantis threatened to impose financial penalties on school officials. The Biden administration responded to that, saying that federal funds would be used to cover any costs.
On Tuesday, Orange County - home to the city of Orlando, became the most recent large district to impose a mask mandate after several students tested positive for Covid-19. As of Tuesday, 1,968 students had tested positive since in-person classes resumed, with 1,491 under active quarantine.
In Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday, the Broward County School Board told the Department of Education that it won’t back down on its requirement that students wear masks. Its policy, like that of most other districts, gives parents a medical opt-out for students. The board said giving parents the unlimited right to send their kids to school without a mask would infringe on the rights of other parents who want their children to be safe.
The state had given Broward and Alachua counties until Tuesday to end their mask mandates. Broward’s students began school a week ago with a mask policy in place. -AP
"We believe that the district is in compliance. We don’t believe that we have done anything inappropriate as it relates to the executive order and the rule of the Department of Education," said Broward School Board chairman, Rosalind Osgood in a Tuesday statement.