Preliminary Injunction Hearing: The Opening Salvo
“This case isn’t about face masks; it’s about the authority of state and local governments. Our entire republic was built on the revolutionary idea that we govern ourselves,” declared Robert Fojo, attorney for Children’s Health Rights of Massachusetts (CHRM). The notion of government and institutional overreach was a key part of CHRM’s argument at the preliminary injunction hearing on October 26.
CHRM, joined by Ryan McLane of Family Freedom Endeavor, argued for an injunction against school mask requirements. It was a veritable David vs. Goliath fight against the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), 14 school districts, and the City of Cambridge.
Judge Hodge presided over the hearing at the Hampden County Superior Court.
McLane focused on DESE’s overreach and noted that mask mandates will have a disproportionate effect on certain minority groups with lower vaccination rates. Students can only unmask when schools have an 80% vaccination rate—and even then, only the vaccinated may unmask, per DESE. The mask rules are essentially a backdoor vaccination policy.
Fojo argued that school committees and local boards of health have also gone beyond their defined authority: “Government entities do not have inherent rights and powers,” he said. “People do.”
He gave an example: "what if there had been an outbreak of flu in 2018, and a school had mandated masks indefinitely for all students? There would rightly be an outcry."
Fojo also pointed out that the Department of Public Health has myriad disease control regulations—including for masks—but masks are not required for COVID mitigation.
Assistant Attorney General Michael Lafleur argued on behalf of DESE that mask requirements are important to get kids back in school after an unprecedented interruption. He said that children have a constitutional right to an education, and that masks make that possible. Lafleur did not address all the other countries and states that don’t foist face coverings on children, yet somehow manage to carry on with no interruptions.
Judge Hodge thanked the attorneys and said he would take the matter under advisement. We now await his ruling which could come within a few days to a few weeks.
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