Kansas AG calls lower court’s mask ruling ‘unnecessary and disruptive confusion’

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TOPEKA (KSNT) – Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt is taking his fight to curb the power of Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and local officials to impose COVID-19 restrictions in Kansas to the state’s highest court.  Schmidt announced Tuesday that he has asked the Kansas Supreme Court to keep in place a law that limits Kelly’s power and local officials’ authority even though a Johnson County trial-court judge struck it down last month.

Schmidt is appealing District Judge David Hauber’s ruling and wants the decision put on hold in the meantime. The Republican-controlled Legislature enacted the law earlier this year to prevent Kelly from restricting businesses or imposing a statewide mask mandate. 

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is asking the Kansas Supreme Court to put the lower court’s Kansas Emergency Management Act ruling on hold.

In doing so Schmidt asked the Kansas Supreme to clarify the status of the state emergency management law.

In the district court filings, Schmidt noted that the court’s ruling was causing “unnecessary and disruptive confusion,” in part because many provisions of Senate Bill 40 were not at issue in the case but it nevertheless appears the court ruling may have found them “unenforceable.” Schmidt said he is hopeful the Kansas Supreme Court will act quickly to remove any confusion that could potentially hamper the State’s ability to respond to a future disaster emergency because of confusion about what law is in effect.

Local power over mask guidance also remains up in the air as Kansas Supreme Court judges are expected to weigh the constitutionality of SB 40, a bipartisan law passed by the Kansas legislature, which requires school boards to hold a meeting over complaints from parents within 72 hours.

In the judge’s ruling, he said the law “tips the scales of justice” with the expedited constraints to make a decision, which could leave the defendant without a judicial determination if the deadline is not able to be met. Therefore, the judge said it “eliminates the role of the judiciary” in deciding its cases, suggesting the legislative branch has infringed on the judicial branch’s powers.

However, in Schmidt’s filings, he noted that the court’s ruling was causing “unnecessary and disruptive confusion,” in part because many provisions of the law were not at issue in the case, but it appears the court ruling “may have invalidated them.” 

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