Court Overturns School Mask Rule in Pennsylvania

In a unanimous decision on Friday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out a statewide school mask requirement endorsed by Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf and Interim State Health Secretary Alison Beam.

According to Harrisburg-based PennLIVE, the court ruled Beam (who took over for previous Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine when she joined the Biden administration) did not have the authority to order children to wear masks at school.

With this decision, the state court upheld a previous ruling by the lower court. This ruling said the province’s Disease Control and Prevention Act of 1955 did not grant Beam “the broad right to implement new laws and restrictions out of entire cloth.”

According to FOX-43, a formal court decision detailing the verdict has not yet been produced, but it is expected to be produced shortly.

Rule of Law Prevails

A coalition of Republican lawmakers, notably state Senate Leader Jake Corman III and state Representative Jesse Topper brought the first lawsuit against the state.

Senior Deputy State Attorney General Sean Kirkpatrick contended in a Philadelphia hearing on Wednesday that the Wolf administration had the right to enforce the school mask rule. He also claimed the delta strain of the coronavirus was inflicting much more significant harm to children.

Wolf spokesperson Beth Rementer expressed disappointment in the court’s judgment, saying it was “very upsetting.”

The government brought to their attention that many school districts wish to provide a healthy and safe educational environment for kids and staff; they were hoping suitable mitigation measures will be taken moving ahead.

In August, the county’s Republican legislative majority developed a measure, which is currently pending a floor vote, to allow Pennsylvanians to “opt-out” of any in-school mask rule. 

Fear as a Tool

In a statement made at the time, chief sponsor GOP Sen. Doug Mastriano asserted fear is being used to divide. By contrast, facts and science should serve as a guide for parents and families while making choices in the best interests of their children.

Colonel Mastriano, a former United States Army colonel, stated it is the responsibility of parents and primary caregivers to acquire information and determine what is in the best interests of their children.

Thomas King III, a lawyer who represented the Republicans in court, hailed Friday’s decision as a “wonderful day for the rule of law” in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Those involved in the litigation stated the Wolf administration’s actions prevented the public from expressing its thoughts and the General Assembly from reviewing the policy’s legality or need.

In the end, Corman also noted in a statement released by Lancaster NBC station WGAL that the verdict was about much more than just masks in schools; it was also about limiting government intrusion.