Michigan Catholic school loses mask mandate appeal News
Michigan Catholic school loses mask mandate appeal

The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on Monday upheld a district court’s decision to uphold a Michigan mask mandate for young children, rejecting the arguments brought by a Catholic school in Lansing, including that the state mask order violated free exercise of religion.

Once the statewide mask mandate requiring everyone above the age of 5 to wear a mask in public ended, some counties continued to require masks in schools during the 2021-2022 academic year. Resurrection School sued in 2020, seeking for an injunction from the district court. In the lawsuit, the school argued “Jesus made seeing the other a priority.” The school also set forth assertations that the mandate violated equal protection and due process.

The divided appeals court explained that the district court “correctly concluded that because the requirement to wear a facial covering applied to students in grades K–5 at both religious and non-religious schools, it was neutral and of general applicability.”

Because the order was neutral, it only needed to be rationally related to a legitimate government interest. The court concluded that the mask mandate is rationally related to the state’s legitimate interest in controlling the spread of COVID-19.

Attorney General Dana Nessel supported the appellate court decision, emphasizing that the mask mandate is a measure to protect public health.

The court explained that although the challenged statewide mask mandate ended, the case is not moot because of the uncertainty regarding whether a mask mandate will be re-issued. The appellate court noted that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services may reimplement a mask mandate if COVID-19 cases worsen.