Last month, the State of Georgia sued its capital city, Atlanta, over masks. The Mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, believes that mandating the use of masks is essential for the health of the city. But the Governor, Brian Kemp, took the position that local governments do not have the authority to imposed quarantine-style policies more draconian that what he has ordered or the legislature has encoded as the state level. Mask mandates are a convenient synechdoche of this broader issue.
Georgia had as of the middle of this month 228,000 confirmed cases of the virus.
Lawyers for the City argued in a filing that “in the absence of state leadership on this issue, local governments have stepped in to protect their citizens,” and that there is no statutory basis for the state lawsuit aiming to stop them.
The Georgia Municipal Association, which represents the governments of municipalities throughout the state, has sided with Bottoms on this matter. Several labor unions also filed briefs saying that the Governor had overstepped his authority.
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This month the state has withdrawn the lawsuit. The Governor has in effect conceded th point. Bottoms’ mask mandate will remain operative within city limits.