Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp filed a lawsuit on July 16 against the Atlanta city council and Democrat Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in an effort to block her from enforcing a citywide mask mandate.
The lawsuit, filed in Fulton County Superior Court, argues that Kemp “leads the State of Georgia in its fight against the worldwide novel coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic” and has the power “to suspend municipal orders that are contradictory to any state law or to his executive orders.”
“As the Mayor of the City of Atlanta, Mayor Bottoms does not have the legal authority to modify, change or ignore Governor Kemp’s executive orders,” the document says.
The lawsuit comes just one day after Kemp issued an executive order banning cities and counties from making face masks mandatory in public, voiding such mandates that have been implemented in at least a dozen local governments.
In the new executive order, the Republican governor said that any laws, orders, rules, or regulations requiring people to wear face coverings in public “are suspended.” Georgia residents are “strongly encouraged,” but not required, to wear face coverings while outside their homes.
“This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times,” Kemp wrote on Twitter Thursday. “These men and women are doing their very best to put food on the table for their families while local elected officials shutter businesses and undermine economic growth,” he continued.
“Just like sending in the @GeorgiaGuard to protect those living in our capital city from crime and violence, I refuse to sit back and watch as disastrous policies threaten the lives and livelihoods of our citizens. We will fight to stop these reckless actions and put people over pandemic politics,” the governor added.
Bottoms, who herself has tested positive for the virus, also took to Twitter to address the governor’s lawsuit. She cited statistics related to the coronavirus in Georgia alongside a copy of the lawsuit.
“3,104 Georgians have died and I and my family are amongst the 106k who have tested positive for COVID-19,” she wrote. “Meanwhile, I have been sued by @GovKemp for a mask mandate.”
She added, “A better use of taxpayer money would be to expand testing and contact tracing. #ATLStrong,” in reference to the website that serves as a COVID-19 resource hub for Atlanta residents.