Minnesota Judge Thomas Gillian denied concerned parents’ request on Tuesday to force all public schools within the state to mandate masks.
Parents Advocating for Safe Schools (PASS), an association of Minnesota parents, filed suit against the state of Minnesota and Governor Timothy Walz, asking the court to order Walz to impose a statewide mask requirement for all public schools. Pass also asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order compelling Walz to require masks.
Walz and the state argued that the court lacked “the power to force the Governor to exercise his discretionary authority to … issue an order mandating masks in public schools because those decisions are political questions.” They also argued that PASS lacked standing because it failed to prove: that its members suffered an injury-in-fact; that the alleged injury was fairly traceable to an action by Walz and Minnesota; and that the injury was redressable by a favorable court decision.
In the court’s decision, Gillian sympathized with “Minnesotans [who] have experienced considerable tragedy and hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Nevertheless, he found that PASS failed to demonstrate associational or individual standing and that “the judicial branch [cannot] order a co-equal branch of government to implement … a statewide mask requirement for all public schools.” Hence, the court denied the request for the restraining order and held that PASS lacked standing to sue and presented “a non-justiciable political question.”
On Monday, a federal judge blocked Iowa from enforcing a statewide ban on public school mask mandates. Last week, a Florida judge blocked Governor Ron DeSantis from banning masks in public schools. In Missouri, Attorney General Eric Schmitt challenged local public schools authority to require masks. In Texas, the Supreme Court allowed Governor Greg Abbott to ban a Dallas school district from requiring masks. Still, the Dallas school district openly defied the ruling and Abbott’s order, stating that it would continue to require masks.
Currently, the US Department of Education is investigating several states to determine whether their mask bans violate the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.