A New York State Supreme Court judge ruled Monday that Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul’s mask mandate is unconstitutional.
“To be clear, this Court does not intend this decision in any way to question or otherwise opine on the efficacy, need, or requirement of masks as a means or tool in dealing with the COVID-19 virus,” Judge Thomas Rademaker ruled.
Rademaker ruled that Hochul’s mask mandate was enacted by way of circumventing the state’s legislature and that neither Hochul nor the health commissioner had the legal authority to enact mandates after the state legislature ruled last year to strip the governor of certain emergency powers.
“What did occur was that, being unable to include such a mandate in an Executive Order due to the State Legislature’s proscription against such broad ranging Executive branch law making powers, the Governor utilized the New York State Department of Health to issue this ’emergency’ ‘rule’.”
“The Court cannot find any law enacted by the State Legislature that specifically gives the Department of Health and its Commissioner the authority to enact a law,” Rademaker ruled. The court also noted that allowing the agency to make law rather than leaving that power solely to state representatives “would result in laws being changed at the whim of every new Commissioner who could then be said to be beholden to their appointor but also it would surely result in a lack of representative government wherein only a select few appointees of the Governor make the laws.”
“This is the very antithesis of constitutionally established representative government,” the ruling continued. (RELATED: New York Requires All Stores To Check Vaccine Proof Or Impose Mask Mandate)
Hochul enacted a statewide mask mandate mid-December following a spike in coronavirus cases. Masks were required in all indoor public venues. Thirteen Republican-led counties refused to enforce the mask mandate.
Hochul said in a statement Monday her office “strongly” disagrees with the ruling.
“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. We strongly disagree with this ruling, and we are pursuing every option to reverse this immediately.”