TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It’s hard to keep track of where we are in the legal process when it comes to masks in Florida schools.
There could be a lot of legal back-and-forths before anything is set in stone all while the ever-changing COVID-19 situation continues to unfold.
Last week, Judge John Cooper struck down Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates in schools, contending the governor crossed his constitutional authority by issuing the order. The judge did not focus on whether he supported mask mandates but rather on which agencies have the power to make decisions about public health.
"The school district which adopts a policy such as a mask mandate is acting within discretion given to it by the legislature in the Florida Parents' Bill of Rights," Cooper said.
Cooper filed his written order Thursday, Sept. 2, and now, you can expect the appeal process to start rolling.
Louis Virelli, a professor of law at Stetson University says attorneys for DeSantis will likely file a notice of appeal pretty quickly which will initiate an "automatic stay." That means Cooper’s ruling will be invalid until the appellate court makes its ruling.
How long will that take?
The District Court of Appeal, consisting of a three-judge panel will scrutinize the case and work to apply Florida law.
Due to the importance of this case, the District Court of Appeal will work on an expedited schedule, but you can expect at least 30 days before a ruling.
The last level of appeal is the Florida Supreme Court consisting of seven judges, but they would have to agree to hear the case. Otherwise, the appellate court’s ruling will remain the law of the land.
Every judge who hears this case moving forward was appointed by a Florida governor.