Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis officially filed an appeal on Thursday to reverse the ruling from a judge who struck down his ban on schools implementing mask mandates.
The appeal, filed at the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee, is aimed at overturning the decision of Judge John C. Cooper, a Leon County Circuit Judge. Cooper previously said that DeSantis had overstepped his state authority in his July executive order on masking in schools.
Looking at the legislation and orders in question, Cooper said that masking mandates do not need to “include a parent-opt out at all,” according to The Associated Press.
The ruling enabled Florida county school boards to put mask mandates in place if they choose. Yet, as the AP reports, DeSantis’s appeal now stays the ruling, meaning that it’s at least temporarily suspended.
When Cooper issued his decision last week, a spokesman for DeSantis released a statement saying that Cooper’s decision went against parents rights and ignored “science and facts.”
“It’s not surprising that Judge Cooper would rule against parent’s rights and their ability to make the best educational and medical decisions for their family, but instead rule in favor of elected politicians. 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,” the statement said.
Earlier this week, DeSantis also said that he believed that his appeal would ultimately prove successful. “It’ll be appealed. We’ll end up getting it back,” he told reporters on Monday. “At the end of the day, ultimately, we’re just trying to stand with the parents.”
A large part of the debate revolves around Florida’s Parents Bill of Rights law.
Cooper believes that the law doesn’t extend to the issue of masking, while DeSantis argues that it does. DeSantis said that a similar case could be made if schools had banned anyone from wearing a mask instead of mandating that everyone wear one.
“I’ll bet you you’d 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 wear — you know what, I think that they would win on that,” he said according to Florida Politics.
DeSantis’s initial order said that COVID-19 protocols in schools should “not violate Floridians constitutional freedoms” or “violate parents’ rights under Florida law to make healthcare decisions for their minor children.”
His appeal comes as it was recently announced that two Florida school boards had been withheld pay for mandating masking in their school districts.
“We’re going to fight to protect parent’s rights to make health care decisions for their children. They know what is best for their children,” said Richard Corcoran, Florida’s Education Commissioner. “What’s unacceptable is the politicians who have raised their right hands and pledged, under oath, to uphold the Constitution but are not doing so. Simply said, elected officials cannot pick and choose what laws they want to follow.”
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