SC Supreme Court finds the City of Columbia’s school mask mandate violates state law

COLUMBIA, SC (WOOLO)– In an declaratory judgement action released Thursday, the South Carolina Supreme Court finds that the ordinance passed by the City of Columbia mandating masks in public schools is in violation of Proviso 1.108 of the 2021-2022 Appropriations Act. The court says enforcement provisions of the ordinance place the responsibility of enforcing the mask mandate on school personnel, which would force them to violate either state or local law.

Click here to read the South Carolina Supreme Court’s full judgement.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson filed the suit against the City of Columbia over its institution of a mask mandate in schools last month, because he says it violates state law.

On August 5, Columbia City Council approved Mayor Steve Benjamin’s declaration of a state of emergency. The mayor announced a mask mandate for elementary and middle schools in city limits.

Attorney General Wilson’s office says the lawsuit does not question the effectiveness of masks and is instead based on if the mandate violates state law.

On Thursday, Attorney General Wilson released the following statement regarding the court’s ruling:

“We appreciate the Supreme Court’s quick ruling and its confirmation of our legal arguments. The Court emphasized what we’ve been saying all along, that we are not arguing mask policy, we are arguing the rule of law. The Court has confirmed that a city ordinance cannot conflict with state law.”- Attorney General Wilson.

Governor Henry McMaster also released a statement about the ruling. Governor McMaster tweeted “The South Carolina Supreme Court has come to a sound conclusion based on the rule of law – a parent’s right to decide what’s best for their child is now definitively protected by state law. I would again encourage anyone eligible to receive the vaccine to get vaccinated.”

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin also tweeted is reaction to the court’s ruling.

The mayor called it a sad day for children in South Carolina.


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