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Judge backs Gadsden County mask order, admonishes Anthony Sabatini

Sabatini could be filing “frivolous lawsuits,” Judge David Frank says.

Judge David Frank of the 2nd Circuit Court upheld Gadsden County’s mask mandate Tuesday but also issued some unsolicited advice to lawyer and Rep. Anthony Sabatini.

The Howey-in-the-Hills Republican has been the attorney on at least four similar lawsuits. No court has yet ruled in his favor, and a Leon County mask mandate was upheld last month in the 2nd Circuit Court.

Despite other judges ruling against the mask ordinance lawsuits he represented, Sabatini took up the Gadsden County case last month. Frank

“The Court urges Mr. Sabatini to reflect on the possibility that, at some point, he could be sanctioned for filing frivolous lawsuits,” the Judge wrote. “Once the law on a particular subject is well established, a lawsuit based on consistently rejected grounds will be frivolous unless there is, ‘a reasonable argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law.'”

The Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners passed the mask resolution on July 17. Ten days later, Gerald Carroll, the owner of a small electrical contracting company in Navana, filed the lawsuit to strike down the mandate.

Sabatini, on behalf of Carroll, argued that the county’s mask requirement violated his right to privacy and due process. But Frank’s 10-page ruling makes his position clear.

“At the end of the day, commissioners were asked to choose between sparing residents the minuscule inconvenience of wearing a mask and saving lives,” Frank wrote. “They chose saving lives. And they did so in conformity with the Florida Constitution.”

Sabatini has led the crusade in Florida against “Mask-Nazis” and argued that he does not believe there is an imminent public health crisis in Florida.

Masks, he said, should be left up to individuals and businesses. The government does not really have a crisis it needs to address, Sabatini claims. And even if it did, it should not be addressed with what he considers an unconstitutional abridgment of people’s rights by requiring them to wear masks in public. “I think they’re worth fighting for,” he said.

He defended his “Mask-Nazis” insult as a variation of the “soup Nazi” gag from the Seinfeld sitcom in the 1990s, saying it was his attempt to bring a sense of humor into politics.

Written By

Renzo Downey covers the Florida Legislature for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at renzo@floridapolitics.com and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.

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