Court rejects Anthony Sabatini mask challenge

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Officials have a "valid basis" to require masks, the judge found.

A circuit judge Friday rejected a challenge to the constitutionality of a Leon County ordinance that requires people to wear face masks in businesses to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Evan Power, a lobbyist who is chairman of the Leon County Republican Executive Committee, filed the lawsuit last month and is represented by state House member Anthony Sabatini, a Howey-in-the-Hills Republican who is an attorney. They raised a series of constitutional arguments, including that the ordinance violates privacy rights.

But Circuit Judge John Cooper, who announced his ruling after hearing arguments, cited evidence that face masks can help prevent the spread of the virus and said the ordinance has a “valid basis” to protect public health.

“I find that this ordinance does not violate any constitutional rights,” Cooper said.

The ruling came as many local governments across Florida have passed mask mandates — and as controversy has swirled around Gov. Ron DeSantis’ refusal to issue a statewide mask requirement.

The controversy also has been fanned by President Donald Trump’s public appearances without a mask. Sabatini called local mask requirements a “novel step for government to take.”

But Drew Parker, an attorney for the county, said “context matters, and our current circumstances that we are dealing with matter.”

“The threat of COVID-19 is real, and the threat continues to evolve and spread,” Parker said, referring to the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

The Leon County Commission passed the ordinance June 23 amid a surge of coronavirus cases in the state. As of Friday morning, Florida reported 244,151 cases since the pandemic began, with 2,161 cases in Leon County. The county added 695 cases during the past week, state Department of Health figures show.

The ordinance requires people to wear masks inside businesses, with some exceptions. Violators can face a $50 civil fine for a first offense, a $125 fine for second offense and a $250 fine for third and subsequent offenses.

County Commission Chairman Bryan Desloge testified Friday that one factor in deciding to pass the ordinance was that tens of thousands of university and community-college students are expected to return to the area in the coming weeks. Leon County is home to Florida State University, Florida A&M University and Tallahassee Community College.

DeSantis has repeatedly pointed to young adults as a main driver of the surge in coronavirus cases.

During Friday’s hearing, Cooper questioned Sabatini about other types of government mandates, including vaccination requirements for schoolchildren and a law that prohibits smoking in workplaces.

“We tell people whether they can smoke in their own business,” Cooper said.

But Sabatini drew a distinction between the smoking ban and an ordinance that deals with what people “attach to your face.”


Republished with permission from the News Service of Florida.

Wire Services


  • S.B. Anthony

    July 10, 2020 at 6:41 pm

    Of course the court rejected Sabatini’s argument. He’s an idiot and is only
    looking to score political points with the fake president’s base, or he’s looking
    for a job when tRumpty leaves office and buys a media outlet. Either way, Florida
    should be glad to be rid of him.

  • Lisa

    July 10, 2020 at 9:37 pm

    Sabatini isn’t not the idiot – the judge is! It says right on the mask boxes that they don’t protect against Covid or any other viruses. Sabatini is fighting for freedom and personal rights , he is a patriot!

    • Henry

      July 13, 2020 at 10:56 am

      You are the idiot that believes the BS the Republicans are throwing at you. Why do doctors wear them if they don’t protect? The CDC and every doctor in the country is asking people to wear masks because they protect both you and the other person. Your right to not wear a mask does not override my and my family’s right to be healthy and alive. The real patriots are the people in the front lines trying to keep others alive while idiots like you spread the disease. It’s ironic that the same people that claim they have a right to do with their bodies what they want are the same that deny the pro-choice their right to do with their bodies what they want. They say because they want to save the life of a fetus. What about the lives of the people you come into contact with?

  • Lisa

    July 10, 2020 at 9:38 pm

    Sabatini isn’t not the idiot – the judge is! It says right on the mask boxes that they don’t protect against Covid or any other viruses. Sabatini is fighting for freedom and personal rights .He is a patriot!

    • BlueHeron

      July 11, 2020 at 1:38 am

      Patriot or not. Matter of opinion.

      As far as the masks are concerned… you will not find a single mask maker
      (aside from maybe medical grade N95) who will guarantee your health against COVID, or any other airborne illness.
      It’s CYA based on the science.
      While there is no mask that can protect us/others 100% from COVID, they do have 60-70% efficacy depending upon the type of mask. The layered thick cotton masks that have ear loops and a metal nose adjuster fit more snugly around the entire nose, down the cheeks and to under the chin.
      When I wear one, I am protecting you and every mask-less person I come in contact with. Depending on the mask, I will get little protection.
      When you wear a mask, you protect me and others. You will not be protected unless it’s a thicker mask. So, if everyone wore a mask while shopping or when in crowds, we are all protected pretty well. Something is better than nothing. We help each other. I’ll take it.

  • Sonja Fitch

    July 11, 2020 at 5:24 am

    Yep duffus Desantis and his other goptrump cult sociopaths do not give a rats ass about common good! The RNC is next to be cancelled! Community spreading idiots! Please remove brakes from your vehicle! No! Yeah but you will wreck easier! Idiots. Wear a damn mask!

  • Merrilyn Kroll

    July 13, 2020 at 3:32 pm

    Why would you want to inhale Carbon dioxide ?
    Also , Covid Can enter thru our eyes .

  • Sonja Fitch

    July 13, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    You ain’t notin but a mASk hole if you ain’t wearen a mask! Lol

  • John B. Saligar

    July 15, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    Unbelievable that people don’t understand that masks primarily protect by preventing droplets from going out into the air. Your mask only protects YOU a little bit. But it protects other a LOT. If we all wear them, we all protect one another, and far less virus is floating in droplets or getting coughed or sneezed into the air. The world is laughing at Florida and at Trump holes for your blatant stupidity.

  • JON

    July 22, 2020 at 4:57 am

    Amazing how many brainwashed demoncrats and leftists on this post. They regurgitate the nonsense of the deep state covid false flag. Yeah it is a real bug…but it is no worse than the flu… In fact it is tame by comparison. The numbers of infected and the numbers of dead have been proven to be highly inflated; pretty much an outright lie. The numbers reported by Florida have been revised since the numbers now bypass the corrupt CDC. The numbers went from 90,000 to 11,00… funny how that works when the Rothchild run CDC, a private business that bilks nearly $5 billion a year from Americans, is hamstrung and unable to LIE! Research shows particles 0.04 to 0.2 μm “can penetrate surgical masks.” For the coronavirus responsible for SARS, particles were estimated to be within that range at 0.08 to 0.14 μm. So if you want to wear on do so.. but do not expect or try to force others to capitulate to your mind control exercise. The Sars and Swine Flu did not require this nonsense… That is probably because we had a commie demoncrat in the oval office at the time. The hysteria around this bug is to derail the upcoming elections as Demoncrats and leftwingers will do anything to win. Also Ironic how Dr. Fauci (a 33rd degree mason), the Surgeon General, and the CDC had previously denounced the need wear a masks and the CDC intoned that it would give people a false hope. Now all of the sudden its required.

    TRUMP 2020

Comments are closed.


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