Florida appeals court rules mask mandate is unconstitutional

In April, I wrote a column outlining the constitutional violations of mask mandates and asking why the courts have failed to abide by the line of Supreme Court cases protecting the right to bodily integrity. Well, on Friday a Florida appeals court did exactly that, perhaps in more emphatic language than a Kentucky judge last week.

Although Florida has been largely free of state-based COVID restrictions and never had a mask mandate, several counties, such as Alachua, zealously instituted unconstitutional regulations until fairly recently. In a landmark ruling on Friday, Florida’s First District Court of Appeals ruled that a lower court had erred in tossing out the lawsuit against Alachua County’s mask mandate because it should be held as presumptively unconstitutional.

“Based on what the supreme court has told us about the scope of article I, section 23, Green (and anyone else in Alachua County) reasonably could expect autonomy over his body, including his face, which means that he was correct to claim an entitlement to be let alone and free from intrusion by Alachua County’s commission chairman,” Judge Adam Scott Tanenbaum, an appointee of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), wrote. “The mask mandate, then, implicated the right of privacy. According to Gainesville Woman Care, the mask mandate was presumptively unconstitutional as a result.”

This language is very significant because it’s the first time a judge is using the principle of bodily autonomy to affirm a constitutional right not to have one’s breathing restricted. The lawsuit was originally brought last May by Justin Green, a Gainesville business owner, but he was denied an injunction against the mandate by Eighth Judicial Circuit Judge Donna Keim.

There are several very striking elements about this ruling, which will reverberate throughout the country even as the mask mandates officially expire. Defendants had argued that the mandate is now moot given the orders of the governor requiring all counties to end their mandates. However, the judge noted in a footnote, “Because of the nature of the various emergency orders that we have seen and the county’s continued commitment to public mask wearing, we are not convinced that this is the last that we will see of this issue.”

Continue reading story at: theblaze.com


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