There’s a good reason why Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) remains so popular with Republicans in the state, and that’s largely due to his continued fight to ensure that Floridians aren’t stripped of their personal freedoms during the extended COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Washington Examiner, the Republican governor scored yet another victory in court after fighting to ensure schoolchildren aren’t forced to mask up in the classroom. On Friday, a state appeals court reinstated a stay on mask mandates, meaning Florida school districts are not allowed to require students to wear masks.
The legal battle
Following DeSantis’ original orders that banned school districts in the state from enacting mask mandates for schoolchildren, some districts and parental groups took action by filing lawsuits to shoot down the governor’s ban.
At various levels of the state’s court system, victories in the ongoing battle have changed hands on several occasions. Last Wednesday, a judge ruled that Florida could not enact a mask mandate for school districts.
However, just 48 hours later, the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee took the case on appeal and ruled in favor of the Republican governor, which once again gave DeSantis’ order legal teeth.
Taryn Fenske, communications director for DeSantis, released a statement following the appeals court ruling.
“Just like last year in the school re-opening litigation, the First District Court of Appeal has reinstated Florida’s ability to protect the freedom for parents to make the best decisions for their children while they make their own ruling on the appeal,” Fenske told the Examiner.
The backlash begins
Unsurprisingly, the appeals court ruling immediately stoked angry parents and districts to respond, with some vowing that the matter will eventually be taken to the state’s highest court and ultimately ruled on.
“We are disappointed by the ruling and will be seeking pass-through jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Florida. With a stay in place, students, parents, and teachers are back in harm’s way,” said Charles Gallagher, the lead attorney for parents fighting against DeSantis’ orders.
The issue has also captured the attention of the White House over the past month or so, as President Joe Biden, according to the Examiner, offered extra federal funding to Florida school districts that defied the governor’s orders.
The announcement from the Biden administration came on the heels of DeSantis’ threat to withhold the salaries of officials in school districts who moved forward with enacting mask mandates — a threat that the governor eventually walked back, according to Politico.
While the battle seems far from over, it appears as if DeSantis has solid legal ground on which to stand. Hopefully, the Florida Supreme Court will agree with his decisions.