Federal judge blocks mask mandate ban in S. Carolina schools; governor vows to go to Supremes

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Throughout the nation, federal judges keep blocking governor-instituted bans on school mask mandates.

The latest block, issued by Obama appointee Judge Mary Geiger Lewis on Tuesday, temporarily blocks the school mask mandate ban instituted through South Carolina’s state budget by South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, in June.

In blocking the ban via a temporary restraining order, Lewis sided with the American Civil Liberties Union, which had filed suit late last month in an attempt to rob parents of their civil liberty to decide what masking practices are best for their own children.

The ACLU had argued that the ban was an infringement on disability rights.

Lewis agreed with their argument and ruled Tuesday that the mask mandate ban violates Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, according to Columbia station WLTX.

“No one can reasonably argue that it is an undue burden to wear a mask to accommodate a child with disabilities. Years ago, ramps were added to schools to accommodate those with mobility-related disabilities so they could access a free public education,” she reportedly said.

“Today, a mask mandate works as a sort of ramp to allow children with disabilities access to their schools. Thus, the same legal authority requiring schools to have ramps requires that school districts have the option to compel people to wear masks at school,” she added.

Following the ruling, the South Carolina Department of Education was forced to concede defeat for the time being.


However, the block is temporary, and McMaster has made it clear he intends to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

“The governor strongly disagrees with the court’s decision and will defend a parent’s right to decide what’s best for their children up to the United States Supreme Court, if necessary,” a spokesman reportedly said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, in Arizona, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper, an appointee of former Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, struck down current Gov. Doug Ducey’s own mask mandate ban on Monday on technical grounds.

Like McMaster, Ducey had instituted his ban by including it in a state budget bill. But according to Cooper, this was an unconstitutional move.

In Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee’s order allowing parents to opt-out of school mask mandates was blocked by two separate judges late last week, according to The Tennessean.

Obama appointee Judge Waverly Crenshaw blocked the order from being enforced in Williamson County, and Bush appointee Judge J. Ronnie Greer blocked the order from being enforced in Knox County.

These rulings came a week after Obama appointee Judge Sheryl H. Lipman blocked the order from being enforced in Shelby County.

South Carolina Attorney General Herbert Slatery has already appealed the Shelby County and Knox County rulings. The Williamson County ruling has been allowed to stand because Crenshaw set an expiration date of Oct. 5th, the day that Lee’s mask mandate ban expires, according to Nashville station WZTV.

If Lee re-ups the ban, which is likely, it appears the party that sued on behalf of Williamson County will need to file suit again.

Meanwhile in Iowa, Clinton appointee Judge Robert W. Pratt blocked Gov. Kim Reynolds’ mask mandate ban two weeks ago and then re-upped it in an additional ruling this Monday.

One lone exception to this flurry of rulings has been in Florida where, earlier this month, Bush appointee Judge Kevin Michael Moore upheld Gov. Ron DeSantis’s mask mandate ban.

“Judge K. Michael Moore issued his ruling in a 34-page opinion Wednesday, leaving intact the executive order DeSantis issued on July 30 that bars Florida school districts from requiring masks in school,” Spectrum News 13 reported on Sept. 16th.

“The plaintiffs in the case are 11 parents of 16 students from eight Florida school districts. They have argued that the mask mandate ban violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and is a violation of the Rehabilitation and Florida Equity Acts,” the station added.


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