Gov. DeSantis's mask mandate ban was enacted 'without legal authority,' judge rules

Gov. DeSantis's mask mandate ban was enacted 'without legal authority,' judge rules
Ron DeSantis, screengrab

Florida state circuit court Judge John C. Cooper has just ruled from the bench that Gov. Ron DeSantis' executive order banning mask mandates and blocking local school boards from implementing those protective measures is "without legal authority" and is "arbitrary and capricious." A group of parents supporting mask mandates sued the Republican governor, believing his order violates the state's constitution.

DeSantis exceeded his authority in signing the executive order, Judge Cooper ruled.

"The Parents' Bill of Rights does not authorize the governor, the state board of education, or the department of education to tell school boards you cannot institute a mask mandate," Cooper declared.

DeSantis signed that bill earlier this year, and has repeatedly pointed to that new law when claiming school boards enacting face mask mandates are acting illegally. The judge says that's wrong.

"Parents' rights are very important, I'm a parent," Cooper says, "but they're not without some reasonable limitations."

Florida law "does not support a statewide order, or any action interfering with the constitutionally provided authority of local school districts to provide for the safety and health of children, based on the unique facts on the ground in a particular county," Cooper added.

"Face mask policies that follow CDC policies are reasonable at this time," Cooper said. "The Parents' Bill of Rights does not ban face mask mandates."

The judge provided massive amounts of evidence discrediting DeSantis' order, telling the state the studies it provided were made before the delta variant was the dominant strain, and called the CDC the "pre-eminent medical authority in U.S." and the "gold standard."

Judge Cooper knocked down several false claims made by the DeSantis administration and his advisors, including that masks are "child abuse," and that children cannot spread the coronavirus to adults.

He also embarrassed the governor's office, stating evidence they submitted stated schools that adopted face mask mandates had 37% fewer coronavirus cases.

Further embarrassing the administration, Judge Cooper stated the executive order mischaracterized a law known as the Parents' Bill of Rights.

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