Georgia Gov Files Lawsuit Against Atlanta Mayor’s Mask Mandate

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 07: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks to members of the media during his weekly press conference regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic from the Georgia State Capitol on May 07, 2020, in Atlanta... ATLANTA, GA - MAY 07: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks to members of the media during his weekly press conference regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic from the Georgia State Capitol on May 07, 2020, in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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July 16, 2020 7:06 p.m.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Thursday filed a lawsuit challenging Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ mandate requiring residents to wear masks.

On Wednesday, Kemp signed a statewide order explicitly banning cities and counties from adopting rules requiring masks or other face coverings. Atlanta and a dozen other cities in Georgia have issued mask mandates in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, which conflicts with Kemp’s order that encourages but stops short of mandating the practice.

In a statement on Thursday, Kemp wrote that his administration is filing the lawsuit on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their employees who are “struggling to survive during these difficult times.”

“These men and women are doing their very best to put food on the table for their families while local elected officials shutter businesses and undermine economic growth,” Kemp wrote.

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Kemp’s administration dismissed Bottoms’ mask requirement mandate as “merely guidance – both non-binding and legally unenforceable” due to how it defies his statewide order blocking local governments from issuing stricter coronavirus-related rules.

Kemp argues in the lawsuit that he has the power to “suspend municipal orders that are contradictory” to state laws or his executive actions.

Additionally, Kemp accuses Bottoms of “(tying) the hands” of police officers by directing them to defy his orders and requests that a judge block the Atlanta mayor from issuing any more orders or press releases that impose a mask mandate or other coronavirus-related restrictions.

“Mayor Bottoms cannot continue to knowingly enter orders and issue press releases which are unenforceable and void that only serve to confuse the public during a time when the state is in a public health emergency,” the complaint said.

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