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Florida Gov. DeSantis' lawyers file emergency appeal against ruling on mask mandates

Lawyers for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appealed a Wednesday ruling allowing schools to issue mask mandates while his ban on the protocols works through the court system. File Photo by Joe Marino/UPI
1 of 5 | Lawyers for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appealed a Wednesday ruling allowing schools to issue mask mandates while his ban on the protocols works through the court system. File Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Lawyers for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis filed an emergency appeal after a circuit judge ruled that schools can issue mask mandates despite an executive order barring such rules.

DeSantis' lawyers on Wednesday evening called for an automatic stay on his order banning mask mandates to be reinstated stating they "have a high likelihood of success on appeal" of an August ruling allowing schools to institute mask mandates.

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"The trial court abused its discretion in vacating the automatic stay and this court should reinstate the stay pending review," the lawyers said.

Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper, in an unusual move, tossed an automatic stay of his August order and said school districts can have control over whether they require face coverings while DeSantis' original appeal makes its way through the court.

DeSantis' communications director, Taryn Fenske, said in a statement that the governor's office expects the appellate court to make a ruling on the appeal quickly.

"No surprise here that Judge Cooper concluded that he is unlikely to be overruled on appeal. We (unsurprisingly) disagree. Yesterday we filed our emergency motion to reinstate the stay and we anticipate the appellate court will rule quickly much like during the school re-opening case last year," Fenske said.

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In their Wednesday filing, DeSantis' lawyers said that Cooper's ruling and the reasoning for lifting the stay on mask mandates was incorrect.

"Presently, there are no active policies in any school district that prohibit students from wearing masks. All of appellees' children remain free to wear masks. Maintaining the automatic stay will not prohibit Appellees from masking their children," they wrote.

They also noted the Parents' Bill of Rights "limits governmental authority and protects the inherent rights of parents."

"Thus, the governor could not possibly have violated the Parents' Bill of Rights by protecting parents' rights," they wrote. "Most assuredly, the Parents' Bill of Rights does not grant any authority to local school districts that did not previously exist."

Amid the legal challenge, DeSantis' administration began withholding funds from schools violating the ban on masks last month. The Alachua and Broward county school districts have led the fight against the mask mandate ban and their school board members have had their salaries withheld. At least nine other districts have also implemented mask mandates.

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