In the Ongoing Mask Mandate Battle, Missouri AG Eric Schmitt Makes the Case for Freedom

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

It’s very clear, COVID is here to stay
Not for a year, but ever and a day

While many Americans have come to terms with that and resigned themselves to getting on with the living of life over and around the pernicious little bug, some insist on holding fast to it — and the power they perceive it affords them. Never mind not letting a crisis go to waste — certain government officials and bureaucrats have seized upon the pandemic as vital fuel for their political (and, in some cases, financial) ambitions: They know what’s best for you and you will be made to respect their authority (rather than, you know, reviewing the available [non-doctored] data, consulting with your own, trusted healthcare providers, and making rational decisions as to what’s best for you and your family while continuing to enjoy your constitutionally protected freedoms).

Missouri doesn’t have a mask mandate…but certain local jurisdictions and school districts within the Show-Me State continue to insist on them. We’ve detailed some of these ongoing skirmishes, along with Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s ongoing efforts to challenge their legality here, here, and here.

Last month, a rather definitive ruling was issued on the matter by a Circuit Court judge. As KSDK reported at the time:

Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green ruled that orders such as quarantines and business closures violate the Missouri Constitution’s separation of powers clause affecting the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

….

St. Louis County currently has a mask order requiring face coverings in public places indoors and on public transportation for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals 5 years and older. It cites scientific consensus from federal, state and local public health officials that masks are necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19 until more people are vaccinated.

Green said orders like that are illegal in the state.

“This case is about whether Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services regulations can abolish representative government in the creation of public health laws, and whether it can authorize closure of a school or assembly based on the unfettered opinion of an unelected official. This court finds it cannot,” Green wrote.

Green ordered that all existing health orders issued by local health authorities are “null and void.”

Seems pretty clear cut, right?

Not according to St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, who continued to insist the county’s “mask mandate” was in effect…until he didn’t.  Initially, Page referred to Judge Green’s decision as “uninformed.” A week later, the County’s acting Health Department Director, Faisal Khan (who’s had his own issues), issued a letter announcing that the mask order was rescinded.

That didn’t stop Page, seemingly irked by AG Schmitt’s challenge to his authority regarding the mandates, from calling Schmitt a bully and a menace:

“As was widely reported last week, the county is no longer under a mask mandate. A court ruling 130 miles away that could gut public health and take away healthcare for the most vulnerable was not appealed by the attorney general, which comes as no surprise,” Page said.

“In his campaign for higher office, he is using the health of all of us in the game of who can be the most irresponsible to ensure the most headlines. So here is a headline for you. Those spreading misinformation and bullying children and parents are a menace to society. By not taking COVID-19 seriously and selling what amounts to carnival quackery as the pandemic rages on. Another variant is spreading, vaccine acceptance is lower than it needs to be. Hospitals here and across the country are sounding the alarm.”

Since the ruling, the debate over masking in Missouri school districts has renewed, with some districts signaling a move toward non-mandatory masking, and others resisting such a move. For his part, Attorney General Schmitt’s office has sent out cease and desist letters to at least 52 Missouri school districts in response to parental complaints regarding continued mask mandates and quarantine policies.

Per the AG’s website:

“Last week, I empowered parents to provide information about their child’s school district and if they’re continuing to enforce mask mandates and quarantine orders despite the recent Cole County ruling. Since then, we’ve received a tremendous response from parents who are fed up with school districts across the state continuing to force their children to wear a mask all day or quarantine when they’re perfectly healthy,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “My Office has worked diligently to identify non-compliant school districts and send cease and desist letters to those districts. We will continue to fight these mask mandates and quarantine orders and enforce the law.”

Not all local officials oppose Schmitt’s efforts. Eureka Mayor Sean Flower has been a vocal opponent of the mandates himself and shared his appreciation for Schmitt’s tenacity on Twitter:

And since it can never be said enough, a reminder not to confuse opposition to governmental mandates for opposition to any particular method people may choose to employ to mitigate risk. Anyone who wishes to wear a mask when out in public (or home alone, for that matter — you do you), should feel free to do just that.

Emphasis on the “feel free.”