Pennsylvania court throws out governor’s school mask mandate

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP/WHTM) — A state court has thrown out an order by Pennsylvania’s acting health secretary that requires masks inside K-12 schools.

Commonwealth Court ruled that said the mask mandate didn’t comply with rules for setting regulations and was adopted without an existing disaster emergency declared by the governor.

The court sided 4-1 with the ranking Republican in the state Senate and others who sued to challenge the masking order that took effect in early September.

Bryan Cutler (R – Lancaster), Speaker of the House, applauded the court’s ruling to “uphold constitutional powers.”

“Today’s ruling is a victory for all Pennsylvanians, regardless of how you feel about this particular issue. It shows that our system of checks and balances works in the interest of all people so that no singular voice can silence the voice of free people who allow themselves to be governed,” Cutler said.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, (R-Centre) was very happy with the decision, too.

“The people of Pennsylvania made a historic vote last May to curtail some of the governor’s authority and he just continues to try to circumvent them so this decision was based in law on who has the authority to do these sort of things and the secretary of health does not,” Corman said.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday, Nov. 8, announced he’ll return authority over masking decisions to local school districts in January. His spokesperson said a comment was being prepared.

“The Secretary of Health’s authority is clearly outlined in existing law.  An appeal has been filed. Filing of the appeal immediately stays the Commonwealth Court’s decision. Schools have been notified,” a spokesperson for Pa.’s Department of Health, said in a statement.

Corman’s case and another were both filed against the acting secretary of health. Lawyer J. Chadwick Schnee argued the latter before the judges.

“There is going to be a process where we can seek to have the automatic stay of the commonwealth court’s decision retracted and so we may very well be involved in that as the next step while the appeal is pending,” Schnee said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. Stay up to date on the latest from abc27 News on-air and on the go with the free abc27 Mobile app.

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