Virginia judge weighs governor’s power to lift mask mandate

Feb 2, 2022, 1:10 PM | Updated: 3:57 pm

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has broad power to issue executive orders overturning mask mandates in schools, lawyers from the state Attorney General’s Office argued Wednesday, while lawyers for local school boards argued that the governor’s action usurps their authority.

An Arlington County judge heard arguments from both sides in a lawsuit the school boards filed against Youngkin. She said she would issue a ruling soon.

In the meantime, schools and parents are left with uncertainty. School boards across the state have refused to implement an executive order from the new Republican governor that not only overturns a statewide mask mandate, but also bars local jurisdictions from imposing a mandate on students.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Deputy Attorney General Steven Popps argued that Youngkin is entitled to issue executive orders responding to the coronavirus pandemic just as his predecessor, Democrat Ralph Northam, did when he imposed a statewide school mask mandate.

“It should not matter whose name is on the executive order,” Popps said.

But John Cafferky, a lawyer for Alexandria Public Schools — one of seven school boards that jointly filed the lawsuit opposing Youngkin’s order — said Northam’s actions were justified because he was acting to preserve public health.

Youngkin’s order, on the other hand, endangers public health, he argued. He said Youngkin is using powers designed to curtail public health crises to impose his personal philosophy that parents should decide whether their children wear masks.

“The personal-choice rationale comes at the expense of schoolwide protection,” Cafferky said.

Cafferky also cited a state law that requires schools to adhere to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the extent practicable, and said those guidelines recommend universal masking.

Popps, though, countered that no school board is able to adhere to every single CDC guideline. The CDC also has called for vaccinating all children age 5 and older, but no school board has seen fit to issue such a requirement, he said.

Circuit Court Judge Louise DiMatteo took the arguments under advisement after Wednesday’s hearing, but said she is cognizant of the need for a swift decision. Both sides have asked for an injunction that would likely apply statewide, either barring implementation of Youngkin’s order or requiring local school boards to implement it, depending on which way she rules.

The lawsuit is one of several across the state related to the mask mandate and Youngkin’s executive order. Cases are also pending in Loudoun County and in front of the Virginia Supreme Court, but Wednesday’s hearing was the first to go before a judge.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - Hiring sign is displayed outside of a retail store in Vernon Hills, Ill., Saturday, Nov. 13,...
Associated Press

Applications for jobless benefits declined last week

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits came back down last week, hovering near levels suggesting the U.S. labor market has been largely unaffected by the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate hikes. Applications for jobless aid fell to 225,000 for the week ending Nov. 26, a decline of 16,000 from the […]
7 hours ago
FILE - Signs advertise deals and low prices at a Walmart in Secaucus, N.J., Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022....
Associated Press

An inflation gauge tracked by the Fed slows to still-high 6%

WASHINGTON (AP) — A measure of inflation that is closely monitored by the Federal Reserve eased but remained at an elevated level in October, likely reinforcing the Fed’s intent to keep raising interest rates to cool the economy and slow the acceleration of prices. Thursday’s report from the Commerce Department showed that prices rose 6% […]
7 hours ago
FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2015 file photo, Juventus President Andrea Agnelli arrives for a Serie A s...
Associated Press

Indictments requested for Agnelli and others in Juve scandal

TURIN, Italy (AP) — The Turin prosecutor’s office has requested indictments of former Juventus president Andrea Agnelli, 10 other former board members, and the club following an investigation into alleged false accounting. Former vice-president Pavel Nedved and CEO Maurizio Arrivabene — who left the club on Monday when Agnelli and the entire board of directors […]
7 hours ago
Associated Press

German parliament votes to approve EU-Canada trade pact

BERLIN (AP) — German lawmakers on Thursday approved a free-trade deal between the European Union and Canada, moving the accord a step closer to taking full effect. The pact, formally known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, was signed in late 2016. Most of its terms have been implemented provisionally since 2017, […]
7 hours ago
Associated Press

Fed matches year of hot inflation with feverish rate hikes

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street expects the impact of the Federal Reserve’s most aggressive year of interest rate hikes in at least three decades to continue to be felt through next year. The central bank’s plan to fight stubbornly high prices on everything from food to clothing has been the central focus for Wall […]
7 hours ago
FILE - Jamie Lee Curtis appears at the Governors Awards in Los Angeles on Nov. 19, 2022. Curtis is ...
Associated Press

Jamie Lee Curtis to receive AARP Career Achievement Award

LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Scream Queen” Jamie Lee Curtis will be this year’s recipient of AARP The Magazine’s Movies for Grownups Awards career achievement honor. Curtis will receive the honor at the AARP’s annual Best Movies and TV for Grownups ceremony, the group announced Thursday. Alan Cumming returns to host the ceremony, which will be […]
7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Virginia judge weighs governor’s power to lift mask mandate