A judge handed Florida’s governor a huge loss Friday when he ruled that Ron DeSantis overstepped his authority when he issued an executive order that banned school mask mandates. According to the Tampa Bay Times:
Leon County Circuit Court Judge John C. Cooper shredded the governor’s order leading up to his determination that it was unconstitutional. The conclusion came after a four-day trial in a case brought by parents from Hillsborough, Pinellas, Alachua and Palm Beach counties.
Cooper pointed out that DeSantis’ executive order drew its authority to ban mask mandates in schools from the state’s “parents’ bill of rights” law.
"I conclude that this evidence demonstrates that face mask policies that follow CDC guidance are at this point in time, reasonable and consistent with the best scientific and medical opinion guidance in the country at this time." But he admits that guidance could change.
— Mary Ellen Klas (@MaryEllenKlas) August 27, 2021
Cooper said what DeSantis was trying to do was unconstitutional, “This orphan statute 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.”
This not only means school districts are well within their rights to impose mask mandates, but it also means parents can no longer “opt-out.”
Big defeat for Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and his ban on local mask mandates for schoolchildren without a parental opt-out.
Judge John Cooper just ruled DeSantis' action on mask mandates "does not meet Constitutional muster." pic.twitter.com/BJlOFi9oUA
— The Recount (@therecount) August 27, 2021
A recent poll from Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index found that 69% of Americans supporting mandatory masking in schools. In other words, the majority of the public is not on DeSantis’ side with this issue.
State Attorney for Palm Beach County, Dave Arenberg says:
“The governor picked the wrong fight and now he’s paying the political price for it. He used this anti-mask mandate stuff to rise to the top of the Republican polls for President in 2024. He became a MAGA darling, but he neglected to think about his re-election next year for governor in Florida and this stuff is hurting him.”
Ten school districts in Florida had already defied DeSantis and imposed their own mask mandates. No word on whether this ruling will compel more districts to do the same.
Judge Cooper's ruling today smacks down Ron DeSantis' ban on school mask mandates.
A victory for science, schoolkids, and separation of powers.
— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) August 27, 2021
This comes at a time when Florida is facing its largest single-day increase to the death total in the state’s COVID pandemic history. That’s according to The Miami Herald:
Florida on Thursday reported 21,765 more COVID-19 cases and 901 deaths to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Miami Herald calculations of CDC data.
901 people in Florida died yesterday of COVID. Ron DeSantis should have to call every one of their families.
— Mr. Newberger (@jeremynewberger) August 27, 2021
DeSantis will most likely appeal today’s ruling.
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) August 27, 2021