Ron DeSantis-Appointed Judges Strike Down ‘Government-Sponsored Shaming’ Mask ‘Diktats, Object to ‘Whispering Informants’

Kent State University student Regan Raeth of Hudson, Ohio, looks at her vaccination bandage as she waits for 15 minutes after her shot in Kent, Ohio, Thursday, April 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Phil Long)
AP Photo/Phil Long

Gov. Ron DeSantis-appointed judges struck down “government-sponsored shaming” mask “diktats” in Florida Friday, objecting to the consequences of “disobedient neighbors” being “subjected to whispering informants.”

In a 2-1 decision, a panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal struck down a circuit judge’s ruling regarding the legality of the “yoke of a mask mandate” in Alachua County due to not properly considering Florida’s privacy rights, which are slightly broader than the U.S. Constitution.

“The trial court simply looked at the right asserted by Green too narrowly, relying on the wrong privacy jurisprudence,” wrote DeSantis-appointed judges, Judge Adam Tanenbaum who was joined by Judge Robert Long.

Tanenbaum opinion continues:

The right to be let alone by government does exist in Florida, as part of a right of privacy that our (Florida) Supreme Court has declared to be fundamental. … (The Supreme Court) has construed this fundamental right to be so broad as to include the complete freedom of a person to control his own body. Under this construction, a person reasonably can expect not to be forced by the government to put something on his own face against his will. Florida’s constitutional right to privacy, then, necessarily is implicated by the nature of the county’s mask mandate.

Tanenbaum, 49, who attended Georgetown Law before being appointed to the district court of appeals in October of 2019, also stated the consequences for not wearing a mask were “being subjected to whispering informants, impelled by county-designed publicity like the following proposed signage encouraging citizens to inform on their disobedient neighbors.”

“The threat of government-sponsored shaming was not an idle one. The chairman who issued the original mask mandate stated publicly,” Tanenbaum continued, “that ‘masks are the only outwardly visible signal that you are contributing to the solution,’ and that ‘masks are also a sign of respect that you recognize [essential workers’] risk and are doing something to lower it.’”

Judge Joseph Lewis, a former Gov. Jeb Bush (R) appointee, disagreed with the DeSantis judges, saying, “person’s privacy right is not absolute and is not to be considered in isolation, without regard for the circumstances under which the right is asserted.”

Tanenbaum’s opinion did not definitively hold that Alachua County’s mask requirements are unconstitutional. The appellate court sent the case back to the lower court, ordering the trial court to presume the mandate is unconstitutional, and make the county bear the burden of producing evidence to prove the mandate was the least-restrictive means to achieve a compelling public interest.

Florida state Rep. and U.S. Congress Candidate Anthony Sabatini (R), who notably launched numerous lawsuits in 2020 concerning mask mandates, said the ruling could mean vaccine passports and mask mandates for school children in the state could also be struck down due to the constitutional right of privacy.

“This case will be used as precedent,” Sabatini told Breitbart News Saturday, “requiring governments to analyze whether school mask mandates, vaccine mandates, and other local government attacks on our liberty would survive strict scrutiny analysis in court—an extremely high legal burden which they are likely to fail.”

It is additionally worth noting that because the ruling relied on the right of privacy, a 2017 Florida Supreme Court precedent blocking a law that intended to require women to wait 24 hours before killing babies, Lewis wrote it is “irrational, and downright repugnant, to liken a woman’s fundamental right to choose to end her pregnancy” with the right of privacy to not wear a mask.

But the majority disagreed, explaining, “The right of privacy is a ‘fundamental’ one, expressly protected by the Florida Constitution, and any law that implicates it ‘is presumptively unconstitutional.'”

Sabatini also pushed back on the Bush-appointed judge.

“The right to be left alone from government is fundamental in Florida,” Sabatini further explained. “This great decision is a huge win for freedom and will be used in our fight against vaccine mandates, school mask mandates, and other local government nonsense.”

The case is Justin Green v. Alachua County, No 1D20-1661 in the First District Court of Appeals in the State of Florida.

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