Freedom Foundation Lawsuit Alleges Mask Order Violates Free Speech

Freedom Foundation Lawsuit Alleges Mask Order Violates Free Speech
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Freedom Foundation Lawsuit Alleges Mask Order Violates Free Speech

“I’m glad to see you all wearing your masks today,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told reporters at a press conference on June 16. “I only took mine off because of the First Amendment.”

Only 10 days later, however, Washington Secretary of Health John Wiesman issued an order requiring, “(E)very person in Washington state (to) wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth when in any indoor or outdoor public setting.”

The mask requirement is the subject of a lawsuit just filed by the Freedom Foundation questioning whether Inslee and the Secretary of Health has the authority to mandate people wearing masks in public, and private property.

“The face-covering directive is the definition of government overreach,” said Aaron Withe, national director of the Freedom Foundation, a national public policy organization based in Olympia, Wash. “If people choose to wear a mask, that’s their choice. But Inslee is going after otherwise law-abiding citizens when there are rioters destroying Washington cities such as Seattle with no punishment in sight.”

The Washingtonians represented by the Freedom Foundation argue that by requiring them to wear face masks the state is essentially compelling them to support junk science in violation of their freedom of conscience, which is prohibited by the state constitution.

“The Secretary of Health does not have sweeping power to pass rules and regulations imposing criminal penalties for refusing to kneel in submission,” said Shella Sadovnik, Freedom Foundation litigation counsel. “And the governor cannot assume powers the Constitution assigns to the Legislature or the judiciary.”

“The lawsuit challenges whether he should — or has the authority to — make such an order mandatory.”