Gov. Ron DeSantis remains confident in appeal of ruling on school masks

'I think we're going to have really good grounds to appeal,' governor says
Posted at 11:41 AM, Sep 01, 2021

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov Ron DeSantis reaffirmed Monday his intent to appeal a judge's decision to block Florida's mask mandate ban in public schools.

"It'll be appealed," the Republican said at a press event in Jacksonville. "We'll end up getting it back. At the end of the day, ultimately, we're just trying to stand with the parents."

Circuit Judge John Cooper found the ban unconstitutional Friday. He also blocked the Department of Education from punishing districts in defiance.

At least 11 school districts now have masking rules without the required parental opt-outs.

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks about the possibility of appealing the school mask ruling, Aug. 30, 2021
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks on Aug. 30, 2021, about the possibility of appealing the school mask ruling.

In his ruling, Cooper said language in the Parents' Bill of Rights, a 2021 law, protected a district's freedom to enact something like a mask mandate. The decision, however, had to be "reasonable, support a state purpose, narrowly drawn, and not otherwise accomplished by other means."

"If you look at the ruling," DeSantis said, "[Cooper] is basically saying the Parents' Bill of Rights violates the school boards. But, in reality, the school boards weren't even party to the case. I think we're going to have really good grounds to appeal."

Pro-mask parents brought the lawsuit earlier this month. Their attorneys said they would ready themselves to defend the judge's decision if the district court grants an appeal.

Lead attorney Charles Gallagher said he was bulking up his legal team in preparation. Over the weekend, he brought on former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Wells.

Attorney Charles Gallagher
Attorney Charles Gallagher speaks about preparations to defend the judge's ruling regarding masks in schools.

"He'll be assisting us with regard to the appellate nature of the case," Gallagher said. "Again, we're bolstering our ranks with additional attorneys that have appellate experience or appellate practitioners so us to have our best foot forward."

Gallagher also said he would be filing a motion to keep the current ruling in place during the appeal process. He estimated it could take weeks or more to conclude.

Cooper has yet to sign his order from Friday to officially make it law. He has said he hopes to do so on Tuesday, allowing the appeal process to advance.