Tuesday, May 30, 2023
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As Activist Judges Block Challenges to School Mask Mandates, Tennessee Fights Back

'These orders have impeded the governor’s executive authority during an emergency to direct the state’s public health response...'

(Headline USA) A wave of activist judges, including ones in Iowa and Arizona, issued rulings to block efforts by the state legislatures and governors imposing pro-freedom bans on mask mandates in public facilities including schools.

However, Tennessee‘s Attorney General Herbert Slatery signaled that he was leading the legal charged to fight back, hinting at another Supreme Court showdown on pandemic overreach after recent defeats of efforts to prevent churches from meeting and to extend a Democrat eviction moratorium indefinitely.

Slatery on Monday said his office would appeal the recent federal court decisions that blocked Gov. Bill Lee‘s order allowing families to opt out of school mask mandates.

“These orders have impeded the governor’s executive authority during an emergency to direct the state’s public health response, which is why this office will be appealing those decisions,” Slatery, a Republican, said in a statement.

Slatery said he would only appeal two out of the three lawsuits filed by families and advocates across the state opposed to the Republican governor’s latest executive order.

To date, federal judges have blocked the order from being implemented in Knox, Shelby and Williamson counties.

All three lawsuits argued that Lee’s order violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits the exclusion of students with disabilities from public educational programs and activities.

Slatery said he was pursuing appeals in Shelby and Knox counties. While his office did not disclose why he only chose those counties, the judge overseeing the Williamson County case has only temporarily blocked Lee’s order from being enforced.

The governor’s order remains in effect until Oct. 5. He has not said if he’ll extend it.

Lee issued the order in August after a handful of Republican lawmakers demanded the governor call a special session so the GOP-dominant General Assembly could halt mask mandates in schools and other COVID-19 safety measures.

Many students have been attending classes without masks ever since.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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