On Monday, the Supreme Court of Virginia rejected a petition brought by parents in the state seeking to invalidate Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order ending school mask mandates.
The writ of mandamus submitted by parents from the City of Chesapeake Public Schools in southern Virginia challenged Youngkin’s Executive Order Two that precludes school districts from enforcing mandatory mask wearing in class.
The justices, in a unanimous opinion, noted that a mandamus is an “extraordinary remedy” that has no application in relation to Youngkin’s order, which he issued on his first day in office last month.
The writ is designed to compel government officials to carry out duties they must fulfill by law.
In this case, the court found Youngkin has no affirmative duty to enforce a mask mandate that Virginia law grants school boards “discretion” in implementing “as they deem appropriate for their individual circumstances.”
Further, nothing in the law can restrict “his effort to influence school masking requirements.”
The justices did state in a footnote, “we offer no opinion on the legality” of Youngkin’s executive order.
Multiple school districts have sued the governor over it, and an Arlington judge placed a temporary restraining order Friday, barring enforcement of it as the case makes it way through the court system, the Washington Post reported.
The governor and state Attorney General Jason Miyares celebrated Monday’s Supreme Court ruling in their favor.
“We are pleased by the dismissal. We will continue to protect the rights of parents to make decisions regarding their child’s health, education, upbringing, and care,” Youngkin tweeted.
We are pleased by the dismissal. We will continue to protect the rights of parents to make decisions regarding their child’s health, education, upbringing, and care. https://t.co/OK4tbBsl6I
— Governor Glenn Youngkin (@GovernorVA) February 7, 2022
“This is a victory for Virginia families,” Miyares said in a statement.
“At the beginning of this pandemic, Governor [Ralph] Northam used his broad emergency powers to close places of worship, private businesses and schools and impose a statewide mask mandate,” Miyares added
“Nearly two years later, we have better risk mitigation strategies and vaccines, and we know much more about the efficacy of requiring children to wear masks all day. We agree with the Court’s decision and will continue to defend the Executive Order.”
Youngkin noted in a Tuesday tweet — perhaps meant to send a message to school boards in his state opposing his executive order — that even Democratic governors are now taking steps to end classroom mask mandates.
Our kids deserve the chance to live their lives, so it’s good to see Oregon, Connecticut, Delaware, & New Jersey taking steps to return to normalcy. Governors across the country are leading the way by revisiting universal mask mandates for kids in schools.https://t.co/6Jo1Gob9yV
— Glenn Youngkin (@GlennYoungkin) February 8, 2022
“Our kids deserve the chance to live their lives, so it’s good to see Oregon, Connecticut, Delaware, & New Jersey taking steps to return to normalcy,” he wrote.
“Governors across the country are leading the way by revisiting universal mask mandates for kids in schools.”