JAMESTOWN – Those behind the lawsuit against New York’s statewide mask mandate say the case isn’t specifically about wearing a mask, but rather, stopping what they call an overreach of the executive branch.
On Monday, a State Supreme Court Judge ruled the state Department of Health didn’t have the legal authority to implement the mandate, and that, it was up to the state Legislature to do so.
Then, less than 24-hours later, an Appellate Court Judge overruled the ruling, allowing the state’s masking rules to stay in place.
“A Supreme Court Judge, who was elected by the people, read the constitution clearly, and accurately, and interpreted the state constitution, this Appellate Court Judge, which is appointed by the Governor, instituted a stay, which keeps the mask mandate in place,” explained State Senator George Borrello.
Borrello, who was among the petitioners against the mandate, says his lawsuit isn’t so much about wearing a mask, but rather, giving localities the choice to do so. This ranges from private businesses to school districts and mirrors a case that happened in Pennsylvania last year.
“I don’t think enough attention had been paid, to the damage it is causing to our children, potentially,” said Borrello. “It’s a local level decision, it is not something the state can mandate, that has been proven time and time again.”
Governor Kathy Hochul appears to be dug in.
“I’m encouraging parents and students to continue doing what they are doing,” said Hochul. “The last thing I want to see, is a different trend because people gave up on the masks.”
As for a timeline to appeal the state’s appeal, Borrello says he fears the process will be drawn out.
“She’s in no hurry to get this appeal ruled on,” said Borrello. “Which I think is really unfair, and it is creating anger, confusion and conflict.”
Based on legal advice, school districts like Jamestown Public Schools will continue their current practice of requiring masks in schools. In a statement, the district said if they receive new guidelines, they will review and consider any potential changes.