Three Scottsboro citizens have filed a lawsuit against state officials regarding Gov. Kay Ivey’s July 15 mandate, questioning the validity of the governor’s order requiring citizens to wear masks during the coronavirus pandemic.
Scottsboro attorney Seth Ashmore, who is representing Barry Munza, Larry Lewis and Debbie Mathis in the lawsuit, said the purpose of the complaint isn’t aimed specifically at a mask.
“It is a question of just how broad the governor’s powers are,” Ashmore said.
Named in the lawsuit, filed in Montgomery County, is Ivey and Scott Harris, in his official capacity as State Health Officer of Alabama.
“No emergency rule was filed by the State Board of Health, covering the July 15 order” said Ashmore. “So that means the July 15 state health officer order is not a ‘rule’ or enforceable ‘law.’”
On July 15, Ivey issued a proclamation, incorporating an order that a person “wear a mask or other facial covering” at all times when within six feet of a person from another household, with some exceptions.
Violators of the order may be arrested, charged with a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, be fined $500 and jailed six months.
Ashmore said there is no statutory authority that can be construed to empower the governor to mandate the wearing of a mask under any circumstances.
Ashmore said his clients are directly affected by the order, as they are located within the boundaries of the state of Alabama and, during times, interface with the public at distances of less than six feet.
He said Munza and Lewis, are retired sheriff’s deputies who interface with the general public in normal daily life, oftentimes within six feet of another individual. He said Mathis, a real estate agent, interfaces with the general public in her personal and professional life, oftentimes within six feet of another individual.
Ashmore said the very narrow question presented in the lawsuit that the judge will have to answer is whether Ivey as governor, in this case, can mandate that an individual must wear a certain article of clothing or device, or mandate other behavior, under the very limited authority granted to the governor in the Emergency Management Act.
Ashmore’s clients are requesting the court issue a temporary restraining order enjoining the defendants from enforcing the proclamation and order from July 15; issue a preliminary injunction enjoining the defendants from enforcing the proclamation and order from July 15; after a full hearing on this matter and permanently enjoin the defendants from enforcing the proclamation and order from July 15.