Judge Rules Against Kentucky’s School Mask Mandate

Thursday's ruling by a federal judge that the Kentucky governor's school mask mandate was invalid was not surprising. Andy Beshear (D), a Kentucky governor, violated state law and prevented the mandate being implemented in a few Catholic schools in northern Kentucky. This is the latest in a long line of legal and political disputes over school mask-wearing.

Kentucky State Capitol, Frankfort, July 29, 2019, Getty Images

The Key Facts

Judge William Bertelsman issued temporary restraining orders against Beshears nine day-old mask mandate to students and teachers in public schools and private schools. However, the order only applies to Catholic Diocese of Covington schools. Beshears spokesperson Crystal Staley, Brandon Voelker, who is the attorney for the plaintiffs, and a group of parents who were both confirmed the same to Forbes. Bertelsman said Beshears mask mandate ran afoul of a law passed by Kentuckys Republican-controlled state legislature earlier this year that limited the governors power to impose emergency executive orders. Staley said Thursday's decision could expose Kentucky students to Covid-19. She stated in an email that she will explore every option to protect Kentucky's children.

What to Watch

Beshear will be accompanied by the plaintiffs Tuesday, to discuss a preliminary order.

Important Quote

The Executive Branch can't ignore laws passed by duly elected representatives of the citizens of Kentucky. Bertelsman stated that this is the source of tyranny.

Chief Critic

Staley stated that the court ruled in favor of the Governor without any hearing and without considering the potential consequences of quarantine and exposure, especially when there are almost no staffed hospitals beds available.

Surprising Fact

Legal opposition has been raised to the state law that restricts Beshears' power. The law was blocked by a Franklin County state court earlier this year in a case before the Kentucky Supreme Court. However, a judge from another county stopped Beshear's issuing of any Covid-related orders later, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. Staley claims Bertelsman was not given a copy the Franklin County ruling before he made his decision.

Important Background

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged schools to require masks for all staff, students, and visitors. This recommendation came at a time when there was a significant increase in coronavirus-related cases, partly due to the more contagious and contagious new Delta variant. This response has highlighted wider political divisions about Covid-19 restrictions. While states like California require masks in schools, other states such as Florida and Texas prohibit local districts from mandating them.