- A judge said Gov. Hochul and New York health officials didn't have the authority to enact its mask mandate.
- The state's mask mandate is unconstitutional and can't be enforced, the judge ruled Monday.
- "We are pursuing every option to reverse this immediately," Hochul said in a statement.
A judge in New York has ruled that the state's mask mandate is unconstitutional and therefore can't be enforced.
In his ruling on Monday, Nassau County Supreme Court Judge Thomas Rademaker said that Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state's Department for Health didn't have the authority to enact the mandate, which has been in place since December, and that it hadn't been approved by the state legislature.
The law "was promulgated and enacted unlawfully by an Executive branch state agency, and therefore void and unenforceable as a matter of law," Rademaker wrote.
The New York Times reported that the ruling would overturn the mask mandate in public places, including schools, but that local mandates would stay in place.
"We strongly disagree with this ruling, and we are pursuing every option to reverse this immediately," Hochul said in a statement. She added that the measures "help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives."
The mandate, which came into force on December 13, required New Yorkers to wear face masks in indoor public places including shopping centers, office buildings, restaurants, and places of worship, as well as on public transport. Businesses and venues requiring proof of vaccination were be exempt.
The mandate was set to expire January 15, but the state's Department of Health extended the rule for an additional two weeks, until February 1.
"Enacting any laws to this end is entrusted solely to the State Legislature," Rademaker wrote in his ruling. "While the intentions of Commissioner Bassett and Governor Hochul appear to be well aimed squarely at doing what they believe is right to protect the citizens of New York State, they must take their case to the State Legislature," he said, referring to the state's Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett.
"Nowhere in the Public Health Law is the Commissioner bestowed with the authority to make a law," Rademaker wrote. "While the Commissioner may enact rules that appear to have the full force, effect, and weight of a law, those rules must be tailored, necessarily related, and attached to a law that the State Legislature has passed."
Rademaker added that the decision was limited to whether the rule was properly enacted and doesn't question the efficacy of, or need for, masks in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
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