By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A federal judge has refused to temporarily block Alabama’s mask mandate and other state health orders issued during the pandemic.
U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins on Tuesday refused to grant the temporary restraining order requested by plaintiffs represented by former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. Watkins said there is no urgency because the health orders were first issued this spring and the mask order followed in July.
“So, at least, Plaintiffs delayed more than two months in filing their motion; at most, they delayed more than five months. Either way, plaintiffs waited an impermissible amount of time to seek the ‘extraordinary and drastic remedy’ of a temporary retraining order,” Watkins said.
The case will go forward. Watkins asked the two sides to file briefs on whether the case should be dismissed.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey last week extended the state mask order through Nov. 8. Ivey said the measure has proven effective at helping control the state’s coronavirus outbreak even if some people do not like it.
The mask order requires anyone over the age of 6 to wear masks in indoor public spaces and outdoors when it’s impossible to stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from others.
Moore argued the mandate, as well as state health orders that closed businesses or directed people to stay home, were unconstitutional. The lawsuit was filed by Moore’s Foundation for Moral Law on behalf of seven plaintiffs.
“We maintain that the governor and the state health officer have exceeded their authority, depriving our clients and the citizens of Alabama of their constitutional rights under the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Alabama. We look forward to a hearing before the court on this matter,” Moore said in a statement.