Louisiana AG issues opinion saying statewide mask mandate is unconstitutional
BATON ROUGE - Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry says Governor Edwards' statewide mask mandate is not constitutional in an opinion released by the AG's office Wednesday.
The statement from Landry's office says the mandate restriction capacities for businesses and requiring face coverings "does not pass the constitutional test." The attorney general's statement also said it was "unfortunate" that his office was not consulted about the governor's order beforehand.
Governor John Bel Edwards announced the order last week in an effort to combat a surge in new coronavirus cases in hospitalizations. During a news conference Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence said he supported steps taken by the governor to slow the spread of the virus.
In the document, Landry also says the mask order is too broad and urges law enforcement agencies to exercise "extreme caution when responding to calls over face mask violations."
The opinion comes just a day after Landry himself reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus.
You can read the full opinion from the AG here.
Governor Edwards released a statement on "the Attorney General's politically motivated opinion" to Twitter Wednesday afternoon.
If ever there was a time to put politics aside to govern, it is now when we are in the middle of a public health crisis that affects all Louisianians regardless of their beliefs or political affiliation. I wish Jeff Landry would listen to his own words from March 18 when he stood with me and said extraordinary measures were necessary to protect the people of our state during this COVID-19 crisis, encouraged Louisianians to follow my directives and said he was united with me in protecting the health and safety of the people of our state. I'm not sure what has changed since then, aside from the loss of 3,300 additional lives and more than 80,000 additional Louisianians becoming infected.
Louisiana continues to follow guidance from the White House and, just yesterday, I hosted Vice President Mike Pence and members of the federal WHite House Coronavirus Task Force in Louisiana, which is considered by the federal government to be in the 'red zone' for new cases. Vice President Pence said he agreed with the steps I have taken in Louisiana and encouraged our people to wear masks and abide by my reasonable regulations. In fact, on Monday's White House call with governors, Dr. Deborah, the coordinator of the federal coronavirus response, singled out my actions, including the mask mandate, as a 'best practice' for states with rising cases.
Last week, Louisiana has 243 new cases per 100,000 people, whereas across the country, the average was only 119 new cases per 100,000 people. We clearly have a COVID-19 problem in Louisiana and I will not let our state go back to a time when we risked being able to provide for our people, which also would put our economy in peril, despite what the Attorney General may want.
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