On Wednesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) got some bad news from a federal judge who ordered that he must stop enforcing his ban on mask mandates in schools.
Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper said in his ruling that the state had failed to prove that delaying his order was crucial in stopping irreparable harm, and also to prove that an appeal would be successful.
“There’s no harm to the defendants if the stay is set aside,” Cooper said in court, according to NBC Miami. “We are not in normal times. We are in a pandemic. We have children that can’t be protected by vaccination. Children are at risk and they provide at least some protection by masking.”
“The greater weight of the evidence did not support the claim that mandatory face masks … would create any meaningful harm to those wearing it,” he said, referring to DeSantis’ claim that forcing kids to wear masks is “child abuse.”
Taryn Fenske, DeSantis’ communications director, fired back by saying that the governor does not agree with Cooper that an appeal would probably fail.
“Today we plan to file our emergency motion to reinstate the stay, and we anticipate the appellate court will rule quickly, much like during the school re-opening case last year,” she said.
DeSantis has long been against mask mandates in schools, arguing that parents should be allowed to make the decision on whether or not their children wear masks.
“Ultimately, we are just trying to stand with the parents,” DeSantis recently said, according to Newsweek. “We think it’s important that they are given the ability to opt-out.”
Cooper had ruled last month that schools could enforce policies like mask mandates if they have “compelling state interest” and also a “narrowly tailored” plan of action. DeSantis immediately fired back by saying that he disagreed with this ruling.
“It’s not surprising that Judge Cooper would rule against parents’ rights and their ability to make the best educational and medical decisions for their family, but instead rule in favor of elected politicians,” his spokeswoman told Fox News. “This ruling was made with incoherent justifications, not based in science and facts — frankly not even remotely focused on the merits of the case presented.”
DeSantis himself went on to say that “a lot of parents” are more worried about their children excelling in school, rather than about them wearing masks, adding that the judge’s ruling is “obviously problematic.”
“I thought about this and then thought about what if the reverse happened?” DeSantis said, according to Click Orlando. “What if a district banned anyone from wearing masks. I’ll bet you you have parents sue under the Parents Bill of Rights, say, ‘Hey, wait a minute I think this is in the best interest of my child to go to school,’ to where you know what? I think that they would win on that and so it’ll be appealed. We’ll end up getting it back.”
Throughout this pandemic, DeSantis has been one of the few governors to prioritize the rights of individuals to make their own decisions about their health. The people of Florida are lucky to have him as a governor.