Missouri AG threatens to sue schools, health departments for enforcing mask mandates

Tracking Coronavirus

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt warned public health departments and school districts that they need to stop enforcing mask mandates.

Schmitt said he sent letters Tuesday morning to health agencies and school districts, informing them of a decision by Missouri’s Cole County Circuit Court. The letter said the ruling determined mask mandates, quarantines and other public health orders are illegal.

More specifically, many argue the Cole County judge’s ruling only makes public health orders “null and void” if they have not been approved by an elected body, like a city council or school board.

“Public health authorities and school districts have gone unchecked, issuing illegal and unconstitutional orders in their quest to aggregate, maintain and exert their new-found power,” Schmitt said. “My Office will enforce the Court’s order across the state.”

The letters argue that health orders, mask mandates, quarantine orders or similar orders issued are null and void because of the judgement and should not be enforced or publicized.

“You should stop enforcing and publicizing any such orders immediately. Failure to follow the court’s judgment may result in enforcement action against you to remove orders the court has determined are unconstitutional and illegal. We encourage you to take immediate action to remove all unconstitutional and illegal orders,” Schmitt wrote in the letter to health departments across the state.

Schmitt also argued that state law does not allow school districts to issue their own mask mandates, quarantine requirements or other orders.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said Schmitt’s “guidance does not apply to Kansas City, as our order was passed by Mayor and Council.”

Kansas City no longer has a citywide mask order but still requires masks in school buildings.

Some local school districts have also said they plan to continue requiring masks despite Schmitt’s warning.

Tuesday afternoon, Kansas City Public Schools and Lee’s Summit School District both released statements that they will continue to enforce mask mandates. KCPS said it will follow the city mandate until it expires.

Lee’s Summit, where masks are required inside elementary school buildings, said Schmitt’s notice doesn’t apply because its mask order and other COVID precautions were approved by the school board.

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