Former Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s self-described “Grim Reaper,” inserted judges as fast as he could over the last four years and did little else. But amazingly, the Judicial Branch of the American government has remained true to its oaths thus far. One judge may have saved numerous lives by blocking a truly bonehead Republican move.
Pulaski County, Arkansas Circuit Judge Tim Fox put a hold on a mask ban mandate. State Republicans enacted a law this spring that prohibited the state’s citizens and their children from protecting themselves from danger. The law banned masks even as the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have recently soared.
Governor Asa Hutchinson signed the bill into law in April, but he said this week, according to ABC News:
‘[I]n hindsight, I wish that had not become law.’
The judge issued a preliminary injunction against it. There have been two lawsuits challenging the ban. One was from a school district with over 800 staff and students in quarantine due to a COVID-19 outbreak:
‘Pediatricians and health officials have said masks in schools are needed to protect children, as the delta variant and Arkansas’ low vaccination rate fuels the state’s spiraling cases. The state on Monday reported its biggest one-day increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations since the pandemic began, and the Department of Health on Thursday said only 36 intensive care unit beds were available in the state.’
But Hutchinson faced heavy opposition from fellow Republicans, who had been inundated with calls and messages from opponents of masks in schools.
According to ABC News, one woman said “COVID-19 doesn’t exist:”
‘Opponents of lifting the ban who testified before the Legislature repeatedly cited false and discredited claims about the virus, including a woman who falsely suggested COVID-19 doesn’t exist.’
Senator Trent Garner (R) said:
‘What I don’t want is this false sense of security that masks seem to be providing because it’s an easy political tool. Let’s come up with the real solutions when this happens in our schools, and I think we’re woefully inadequate on that.’
Senate President Jimmy Hickey (R) commented:
‘You try to talk to someone about this, but there’s so much misinformation that’s out there you have to try to dispel that and then they’ll go to another one and do that and you’ve got to do that all the way down to keep them from getting upset at you before you can ever talk to them about it.’
The chambers Minority Leader Senator Keith Ingram (D) was worried:
‘I think we’re going to come to really regret not taking action. I just hope the consequences aren’t fatal for children or staff or teachers in this state.’
Fox ruled against the measure indicating that it “discriminated between public and private schools.”
But people have been fighting back, according to The Forbes magazine:
‘Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde and Sheriff Eric Higgins filed a motion to intervene in the legal challenge to the state law that prohibits public mask requirements.’
Arkansas also cut off supplemental unemployment insurance payments for “69,000 people in the state.” A state judge ordered the governor to restart payments, because he alone did not have the authority to stop them. These payments were intended to continue until early September.
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.
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