Judge rules against Act 1002; local attorney explains future of mask mandate in schools

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA)- An Arkansas Judge issues a preliminary injunction in two lawsuits against Act 1002, allowing cities and school districts to make their own decisions on mask mandates.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox ruled Act 1002 unconstitutional, deciding against the mask mandate ban in cities and schools.

“I had one primary objective in calling the legislature into session this last week,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “That objective is to provide flexibility for local school districts to protect their students under 12 who are not able to protect themselves.”

Lawmakers ultimately decided to keep the ban in place.

“My objective has been achieved, not by legislative action, but by the court decision today by Judge Fox,” said the governor.

“There are different types of ways a statute can be found unconstitutional, said Attorney Tony Pirani. “A facial violation is the absolute strongest because that essentially means there’s no way that statute can be construed.”

Judge Tim Fox ruled Act 1002 unconstitutional on multiple grounds, including violating equal protection between public and private schools.

“The court not only granted a preliminary injunction in this matter, the court granted declaratory relief and and flat out declared that this statute is unconstitutional,” Pirani said. “It stands and that’s the law of the land unless or until a higher court overrules either Judge fox’s decision or remands it to have him reconsider the matter further.”

Pirani said this ruling means district can proceed with confidence to enforce mask mandates this school year and the only way to undo this is if the Attorney General appeals the order.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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