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Rep. Anthony Sabatini laments ‘mask Nazis.’ Photo via A.G. Gancarski

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Duval County latest to reject Anthony Sabatini’s mask order challenge

Setbacks continue for Rep. Sabatini’s challenges.

A Duval County Circuit Court is the latest jurisdiction to reject a challenge to a mask order from a Republican state legislator.

Duval County Circuit Court Judge Katie Dearing rejected the challenge Monday from Rep. Anthony Sabatini, who filed a challenge in July on behalf of Jacksonville businessman Jason French.

“The Mayor, politically accountable to the City of Jacksonville, has determined that this measure meets the dangers presented to the City and its people by the COVID-19 emergency,” Dearing wrote Monday in a 21-page opinion.

In early July, Sabatini came to Jacksonville, holding a press conference outside the Duval County Courthouse, where he railed against Mayor Lenny Curry‘s mask mandate.

He contended a fine and jail time could result for a violator of the “ridiculous” and “unlawful, unconstitutional” mayoral “proclamation.”

“It’s an absolutely terrible policy,” Sabatini said. “It’s outside their actual legal powers here as a municipality.”

“If the majority of citizens believed that government should be in the business of mandating masks,” he added, “government wouldn’t need to be in the business of doing it.”

However, these arguments ultimately didn’t prevail, with Dearing outlining at length her position that governments and governmental agencies have been compelled to take extraordinary actions during the pandemic.

“It is no more the Court’s job to impose a mask requirement on the citizenry based on these studies than to invalidate a mask requirement based on the opinion of Plaintiff’s expert. Those are questions for the politically accountable elected representatives of Jacksonville to decide,” Dearing wrote.

Claiming that Sabatini “misapprehends” the role of courts in “our tripartite system of government,” Dearing rejected the claims for both declaratory and injunctive relief.

For Sabatini, this continues a streak of losses in these cases, with losses in similar actions throughout the state in recent months.

The legislator, who famously called proponents of facial coverings “mask Nazis,” has scored plenty of headlines, but with little in the way of tangible gains through these actions.

The Jacksonville mask order was extended Sunday, and will be in effect through at least Oct. 27, according to the Mayor’s Office.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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