Potential parent-led lawsuit would challenge state ban on mask mandates

KNWA

ROGERS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — There are only a few weeks left until most Arkansas schools resume, and parents are deciding what to do about masks. Some plan to take legal action against a state ban on mask mandates.

Act 1002, which passed during the latest legislative session, was sponsored by State Sen. Trent Garner (R). It banned mask mandates in the state.

Rogers attorney Tom Mars confirmed via email he will represent parents in a lawsuit to make the law null. He declined an interview Tuesday and stopped responding after initially agreeing to provide a statement.

Matt Bender is a University of Arkansas Law professor. He said Arkansas is the opposite of most states.

“In almost every other state or any other case where there’s litigation, there is a mask mandate, and people are trying to challenge it,” Bender.

Bender said parents will still have the ability to send their kids to school with masks, but there’s still fear.

“There’s a very understandable anxiety as school’s about to start that it’s now or never to try to take some action to keep kids safe,” Bender said.

Garner said the lawsuit, when filed, will be a publicity stunt.

“His clients probably feel a legitimate need to challenge it, but Mr. Mars is a terrible stunt attorney,” Garner said. “He often trolls my Twitter page.”

Garner, who said he agrees with the science of vaccines, anticipated legal challenges but stands by the law. He said it would take around a 30% mortality rate, the historical rate associated with confluent smallpox, before he’d consider supporting a mask mandate. He said in this example, dramatic short-term measures were needed.

“If there was ever a time we needed to put a mask mandate back in place again, the legislature would have to be called to actually have the enforcement of the law to do that,” Garner said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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