Judge rules ban on mask mandates as “unconstitutional”

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A Superior Court judge ruled that Arizona’s ban on mask mandates is unconstitutional. Earlier, we spoke with attorney Roopali Desai, who represented the groups that successfully filed sued over the new law.

“In a very well-reasoned, 17-paged ruling, Judge Cooper, declared unconstitutional, a number of provisions that we challenged in several budget reconciliation bills that were passed by the legislature and in addition to specific provisions that we challenged, she also declared one entire bill, Senate Bill 1819, unconstitutional on single subject rule grounds,” Desai said.

She continued that this ruling showed that, “our constitution in Arizona means something. That the Arizona constitution includes two separate provisions relating to the single subject rule.”

In regards to “single subject” there’s the single subject requirement that every bill passed by the legislature “shall include but one subject” and there’s the “notice requirement” which is a separate component of the single subject rule and, “that rule requires that the title of each bill passed by the legislature fairly and accurately describe what’s contained in the bill,” Desai said.

They brought up many provisions including the one regarding the prohibition on mask mandates.

Things like the “prohibition on mask mandates” were policy provisions that were, “stuffed into these budget reconciliation bills but were nowhere noticed in the title. So, the title was called budget reconciliation but the substantive provisions in these bills related not to budget reconciliation but instead to things like prohibiting mask mandates and other COVID-19 mitigation policies,” Desai said.

The Judge didn’t rule directly on the unconstitutionality of prohibiting mask mandates but that they cannot stuff the policies into a budget bill, it must stand on its own.

“The ruling does not require mask mandates. It doesn’t say that…there will be blanket mask mandates across Arizona. The ruling says that the various prohibitions on cities, towns, counties and school districts doesn’t stand. Now, those different organizations and government entities can make decisions that are in the best interest of their communities after assessing whether or not they want to adopt a mask mandate,” Desai said.

Roopali Desai, Attorney, Coppersmith Brockelman

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