SALT LAKE CITY -- A group of eight Utahns have filed a lawsuit against Governor Gary Herbert and the Utah Department of Health due to the state’s executive order mandating children wear masks at school.
- Related story: Lawsuit challenges Gov. Herbert's COVID-19 executive orders
Morgan Philpot, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, accused Governor Herbert of overstepping his executive power.
“The governor can’t make an executive order that changes the law,” Philpot told FOX 13. “In states of emergency, it’s even more important that you follow the law, that he be transparent, that he be accountable.”
(1/2) These are the eight Utahns filing a lawsuit against the Utah Department of Health and Governor Gary Herbert due to his executive order mandating children wear masks at school. #utpol pic.twitter.com/jZkettg0un— Adam Herbets (@AdamHerbets) September 4, 2020
According to a complaint filed in Utah County, “Plaintiffs’ children are being subjected to mental and emotional abuse at their schools by the Defendants for secretive and undisclosed purposes… Defendants have perpetrated a campaign of false information related to school age children.”
Throughout the pandemic, Governor Herbert has been very vocal about his reluctance to issue a mask mandate, instead urging people to take personal responsibility in “doing the right thing.”
That changed as children got ready to go back to school.
“That is of course the right way to start, but then the right way to follow up is to follow the law!” Philpot said. “I think we all have to acknowledge that freedom comes with a level of responsibility, right? That’s why we tried to put in due process… How many people in Utah really want some answers here? How many want to see some accountability?”
(2/2) According to complaint, the children of these eight Utahns are being subjected to "mental and emotional abuse at their schools... for secretive and undisclosed purposes."— Adam Herbets (@AdamHerbets) September 4, 2020
"Defendants have perpetrated a campaign of false information related to school age children.” #utpol pic.twitter.com/IpKojZ0VfY
Philpot said his clients are not looking for financial relief, but they would like to see the mask mandate put on hold until the legislative branch can be involved in the process.
Although other states have also tried to challenge mask mandates, Philpot said he believes the Utah Constitution has “particular safeguards” that make it more likely to be able to challenge the governor’s power more effectively.
Governor Herbert’s office has declined to comment on the case.