Q&A Of The Day – Will The State Win The School Mask Mandate Case On Appeal? Part 1
Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.
Parler & Twitter: @brianmuddradio
Today’s entry: (1) So government has the authority to mandate masks but no authority to give people the choice to not wear them. Is that about right?
(2) When DeSantis said the state would appeal he mentioned the Leon County court is often overruled. How accurate is that?
Bottom Line: These are a couple of the questions which rolled in, in the wake of Friday’s decision by Leon County Circuit Court Judge John Cooper to strike down the Florida Board of Education’s rule mandating parental choice for the masking of their children at school. In addressing the first of these two questions, one government entity, school districts, mandating masks but another government entity, the Florida Department of Education, not having authority to overrule... Judge John Cooper addressed those types of concerns when he citied two Florida Supreme Court rulings from long ago – cases in 1914 and 1939 - essentially saying that individual rights are limited when they negatively affect someone else’s rights. He even used the age-old example of yelling fire in a movie theater to illustrate his point. Incidentally, he’s on solid ground with that argument.
When addressing what makes the US so different from other countries, I’ll often say – the difference is our rights and freedoms come from God, rather than from the government unless we use our liberties to inhibit someone else’s. Using that logic, it’s why one government could issue a ruling but another with supremacy over the other government wouldn’t be able to overrule. The question is if the logic used fits the example. Just as John Cooper is asserting that students not wearing masks could potentially inhibit the rights of those around them in the name of the virus, could that argument not be reversed? With studies showing teachers teach less, students learn less and many students suffer negative side effects from wearing masks for extended periods of time - couldn’t it be said that the ability for students to effectively learn and not suffer negative side effects of long duration mask use is an inhibition on their rights as well?
In addressing that dynamic Cooper stated the CDC is the “gold standard”. What Judge Cooper essentially did was find precedent to attempt to justify his position with all counter points being rejected on the basis that the CDC’s current recommendation for students and staff to wear masks tips the scales in that direction. Even if you don’t agree with the outcome, it’s a compelling argument from a legal perspective. It puts the dissenting position, in this case the state, in the position of having to assert they have evidence/experts more compelling than the CDC. Incidentally, without explicitly stating so, John Cooper implied the CDC is more compelling than the Florida Department of Health for the purpose of making health related decisions in our schools. It’s important to note that the Florida Board of Education rule was made under the direct recommendation of the Florida Department of Health. What’s interesting is that this is a direct contradiction of the basis of this case. The case was brought by parents on the premise that local school boards know what’s best for the health of their staff and students and should retain authority. In ruling for the parents, you then have a judge bypassing the Florida Department of Health’s recommendations for what’s best for Florida’s students by using the CDC. That’s a hole so big you could drive an 18-wheeler through it and is certainly something I’d argue on appeal if I were the state. I’ll pick up there in the second part of today’s Q&A.