In a huge victory for individual freedom, a judge has rejected an attempt by parents in Minnesota to force a statewide mask mandate in schools.
On Tuesday, Ramsey County District Judge Thomas Gilligan said in his ruling that the parents’ lawsuit lacked the legal authority to order Gov. Tim Walz (D) to implement a new state order.
“While this court is gravely concerned about the public health consequences of the failure of school districts to implement the guidance of the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health regarding use of masks for children, teachers, and staff in K-12 public schools, the judiciary cannot order a co-equal branch of government to exercise its discretionary, political judgment to implement a specific educational policy,” Gilligan said.
Minnesota Public Radio reported that school districts throughout the state could implement their own COVID-19 restrictions and mandates, with some requiring students to wear masks and others making this optional. Despite this ruling, Marshall Tanick, an attorney who represented the Parents Advocating for Safe Schools (PASS), said that this case might not be over.
“We knew this would be a difficult case, especially at the trial court level, but it’s an extremely important one,” Tanick said. “And we are examining a number of alternatives, including the possibility of an accelerated or expedited appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court due to the urgency of this matter.”
In his decision, Gilligan explained that he was worried about setting a precedent in requiring the governor to use emergency powers to enact this mask mandate.
“If a citizen suffered the effects of a natural disaster such as a tornado or flood, can they avail themselves of court intervention to force the governor to issue an executive order to restore power, rebuild structures and flood protection or make emergency funds available?” Gilligan asked rhetorically.
This came one day after a judge in Iowa forced the state to stop enforcing a law that prevents school boards from ordering mask mandates. According to The Associated Press, Judge Robert Pratt ruled that the law, which was signed back in May by Governor Kim Reynolds (R), substantially increases the risk of several children with health conditions contracting COVID-19.
“Because Plaintiffs have shown that Iowa Code section 280.31’s ban on mask mandates in schools substantially increases their risk of contracting the virus that causes COVID-19 and that due to their various medical conditions they are at an increased risk of severe illness or death, Plaintiffs have demonstrated that an irreparable harm exists,” Pratt wrote in his ruling.
Reynolds has since fired back by saying that the judge “unilaterally overturned a state law, ignored the decision by our elected legislature and took away parents’ ability to decide what’s best for their child.”
Just like with vaccines, individuals should be free to choose whether or not to wear masks, and children should not be forced to wear masks without the consent of their parents. We applaud the Minnesota judge for shutting down an attempt for school mask mandates in the state. We hope Iowa Republicans continue to fight back against these mandates, despite their judge’s ruling.