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Parents file federal lawsuit to end state's mask mandate

Sep 21, 2021 6:00 am

Brendan J. Lyons is reporting for the Times Union a group of parents in opposition to the state requirement that children wear masks in schools and on buses filed a federal lawsuit September 19, against state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker. They argue the mandate is a violation of their children's First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. "The masks have made the children sick, stunted their intellectual and social growth and most importantly violated their freedom of speech and association," the complaint states. "While the virus may no longer be fatal to our health, it poses an existential danger to our liberty." The case was filed in U.S. District Court in Albany on behalf of nine children and five of their parents, including Knox resident Jeffrey N. Thomas. Thomas founded the Facebook group, Unmask New York School Children Now. In early June, former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared that masks would no longer be required in school, but last month, Gov. Kathy Hochul said that universal mask-wearing would be required in schools statewide. Thomas said that if the lawsuit goes forward they will produce expert testimony and reports on the alleged physical and long-term harm the parties in the case allege are being caused by the state requirements. The plaintiffs in the case liken the mandate to an unauthorized medical experiment being performed on human subjects without their consent and argue that children face little risk of serious health consequences from COVID-19. In addition to Thomas, other plaintiffs include parents of children with autism, autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder, epilepsy and other learning disabilities. The court is being asked to declare the mask mandate unconstitutional and to ban its enforcement. Read the full story in the Times Union.