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New York Supreme Court Halts State’s Mask Mandate for Schools, Public Spaces

A New York Supreme Court judge on Monday (Jan. 24) struck down the state’s masking requirements for schools and other public settings one week before it was due to expire, finding that the order overstepped the governor’s constitutional authority.

Judge Thomas Rademaker of Nassau County Supreme Court found that the state legislature last year curbed any governor’s ability to issue decrees, such as a mask mandate, amid a declared state of emergency.

Rademaker wrote in the ruling that “there can be no doubt of the good intentions” behind the order that seeks to help end the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but that “enacting any laws to this end is entrusted solely to the State Legislature.”

Hochul responded swiftly to the ruling with a statement promising to challenge it.

“My responsibility as Governor is to protect New Yorkers throughout this public health crisis, and these measures help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” Hochul said in a statement. “We strongly disagree with this ruling, and we are pursuing every option to reverse this immediately.”

The New York State Education Department said in a statement Monday that it has instructed superintendents across the state to continue following the masking requirement, noting that school masking regulations have been subject to conflicting court rulings.

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