Several local attorneys say they are preparing to challenge Palm Beach County’s executive order to wear face coverings.
The measure, which the county commission passed unanimously on Tuesday, is set to go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.
However, attorney Melissa Martz tells West Palm Beach television station WPEC that she and three other lawyers sent commissioners a cease and desist order, arguing the mask mandate is unconstitutional.
She adds that several people are interested in being plaintiffs in her pending litigation.
“County commissioners are on notice,” Martz adds. “This is a huge invasion of our physical autonomy, and we have a right to be left alone by the government.”
She explains that the order violates an individual’s right to privacy, as well as religious freedom, right to speech, due process, and equal protection under the law.
Similar lawsuits have already been filed in Miami-Dade and Orange counties, due to their face mask ordinances.
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Palm Beach County commissioners heard opposing legal arguments on Tuesday.
For example, Justice Ira Raab told the commission that the orders are legal. He emphasized that people do not have a constitutional right to endanger the health of other individuals.
“Some people may claim they have a constitutional right to not wear a mask,” he said. “They do not have a constitutional right to endanger others just like they do not have a right in a crowded theatre to yell fire.”
Martz says she plans t argue that the state has not proven that wearing a mask will stop the spread of COVID-19, and that the state has therefore not shown such a mandate is necessary.
“As a citizen I am extremely disheartened to see we have tyrannical rule where I live,” she argues.
Following Tuesday’s vote, Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner said that he believes the commissioners are acting in the interest of public health and safety, and that the new mask mandate will slow the spread of the virus.
“It is our duty to put public health first and that means a mandatory order,” Kerner said.