A judge in Arizona has overturned the state’s ban on mask regulations in schools.
A judge in Arizona has determined that the state’s restriction on mask mandates in schools, which was enacted as part of a budget deal, is unconstitutional.
In a 17-page judgment issued Monday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper concluded that the state violated its constitution when it passed four bills crammed into the state budget by Republican lawmakers.
The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed in August by the Arizona School Boards Association and others against the state over four laws that prohibit public schools from enforcing mask mandates, penalize educators for teaching topics that present “any form of blame or judgment on the basis of race,” and allow the attorney general to seek civil action against a government employee who obstructs the law.
The legislation, according to Cooper, clearly breached the single-subject criteria, which prevent legislators from mixing unrelated measures into a single bill to protect the legislative process.
“The issue here is not what the legislature decided, but how it decided what it did,” she wrote, adding that the single-subject requirement was intended to prevent lawmakers from “logrolling,” in which they combine multiple topics into one bill so that a vote in favor of one of them supports all of them.
“The bill is classic logrolling,” she added, describing it as “a mishmash of special interests cobbled together to force a vote for all or none.”
Educators and their supporters applauded the decision on Monday.
In a message to ASBA members on Monday, Sheila Harrison-Williams, the association’s executive director, wrote, “ASBA applauds the finding today that empowers school boards to exercise local decision making, based on local conditions, in considering whether to have a mask mandate in their schools.”
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman called the GOP lawmakers’ strategy of passing the policy without public comment in June a “attack on the democratic process.”
“Our school communities are tired of being used as political pawns in dangerous attempts to undermine democracy and disregard science,” she said in a statement released on Monday. “Students and their families have worked hard to study in a safe environment among their peers and teachers, and they deserve to enjoy the rest of the school year without being interrupted.”
The ruling will be appealed, according to Attorney General Mark Brnovich.
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