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Palm Beach County residents continue to fight 'dystopian' mask mandate

Attorneys challenge county's emergency order requiring people 'to strap a medical device over their nose and mouth'
Woman wearing mask walks by American flag in Palm Beach, May 2020
Posted at 11:01 AM, Dec 01, 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Attorneys for five Palm Beach County residents challenging the countywide mask mandate are asking an appellate court to reverse a judge's decision to deny their request for a temporary injunction.

The Miami-based law firm of Beck & Lee filed a reply brief Monday with the Fourth District Court of Appeal on behalf of appellants Josie Machovec, Carl Holme, Karen Holme, Rachel Eade and Robert Spreitzer.

They are seeking a reversal on Palm Beach County Judge John Kastrenakes' July order denying injunctive relief.

"The instant appeal concerns the appropriate level of constitutional review to apply when a county's 'emergency' order -- for the past five months and counting -- has required people to strap a medical device over their nose and mouth in order to combat an airborne respiratory disease," Jared H. Beck wrote.

Palm Beach County first enacted its mask mandate on June 24. It has been extended six times since and is currently in effect until Dec. 21.

Attorneys for the county argued that the trial court's ruling was proper because the county's order implicates no "viable constitutional claim" and the appellants have failed to prove that an injunction would serve the interest of the public.

"Both claims lack merit," Beck countered in his appeal. "Any common-sense understanding of the right to privacy should conclude that it encompasses the right not to have the long arm of the state forcibly reach into one's face and secure a mask over one's nose and mouth."

Beck lambasted the county's two "medical experts" who opined that the mask mandate "does not entail medical treatment."

Woman wears mask while walking in Palm Beach
A woman wearing a protective face mask walks past a closed art gallery during the new coronavirus pandemic, Monday, May 11, 2020, in Palm Beach, Fla.

"Not only are these expert opinions irrelevant to the issue of whether an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy extending to the right not to have a medical device strapped to one's face, they are facially absurd and, if adopted, would produce dangerous, dystopian results," Beck argued. "Because the emergency order plainly implicates the right against forced medical treatment, our established constitutional jurisprudence requires it be subject to strict scrutiny."

The Fourth District Court of Appeal has not yet decided whether it will hear oral arguments in the case.

Assistant County Attorney Rachel Fahey said the county does not comment on ongoing litigation.