Arizona Judge Blocks Laws Banning School, City Mask Mandates

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
September 28, 2021 Updated: September 28, 2021

An Arizona judge on Monday ruled that the state’s ban on mask mandates in public schools, and other Republican-passed Arizona laws that block local governments from imposing COVID-19 requirements, are unconstitutional.

The sweeping ruling from Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper effectively clears the way for Arizona cities and counties to impose mask mandates. At least 29 public school districts had defied the laws and enacted their own mask requirements.

Cooper in her ruling voided a ban on vaccine requirements at public universities, community colleges, and local governments.

The judge also overturned several provisions not related to COVID-19 that were slipped into the state budget, including a required investigation of social media companies and stripping the Democratic secretary of state of her authority to enforce election laws.

The measures were set to go into effect on Wednesday.

“The bill is classic logrolling—a medley of special interests cobbled together to force a vote for all or none,” Cooper stated in her ruling.

Budget bills were intended to determine spending for Arizona, wrote Cooper, “not to enact laws prohibiting mask mandates, regulating school curriculum, or authorizing special interest projects unrelated to the budget or budget reconciliation.”

“The issue here is not what the Legislature decided but how it decided what it did,” she added.

Cooper wrote that the laws violate constitutional requirements that the content of legislation is described in its title and is confined to a single subject. State attorneys argued that all the provisions had something to do with spending for education or health and that the Legislature didn’t need to be more specific.

“That is not correct,” Cooper wrote. “The Legislature has discretion to title a bill but, having picked a title, it must confine the contents to measures that reasonably relate to the title and to each other to form one general subject.”

A spokesman for Republican Gov. Doug Ducey called the ruling “clearly an example of judicial overreach.”

In a statement on Twitter, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, vowed to appeal the ruling.

“We will appeal this ruling. It’s unfortunate that left-wing groups want to undermine the legislative process and indoctrinate our children with critical race theory and force vaccines on those who don’t want them,” he wrote. “I will continue to stand for the rule of law and the people of Arizona.”

The Epoch Times reached out to a spokesman for Brnovich for additional comment.

Arizona is one of several states where Republican governors have pushed to block local governments and school districts from imposing mask mandates. Critics of mask mandates have argued that such rules infringe on personal liberty and are ineffective at preventing the spread of viruses, while proponents of the measures have said they are necessary to curb the transmission of COVID-19.

According to data compiled by Burbio, masks are currently required at schools in 75 percent of the 200 largest districts nationwide.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.