Iowa judge denies woman's request to halt state mask ban law

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A state court judge declined Friday to halt enforcement of an Iowa law that prohibits school boards from enacting mask requirements, saying there is no evidence that any school board would immediately impose a mask mandate if the law wasn't in effect.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by Frances Parr, a mother of twin boys from Council Bluffs. She sued the state, Gov. Kim Reynolds and several state officials last month in Polk County District Court, seeking an order halting enforcement of the law

Judge Celene Gogerty, who was appointed to the bench by Reynolds in November 2018, said Parr has presented no evidence that a temporary injunction would alleviate Parr's alleged harm causes by the law.

“Thus, on the evidence presented by the plaintiffs, even if the court imposed the temporary injunction, there is no evidence a mask mandate would be imposed by the plaintiffs’ school board and the plaintiffs would be in the exact position prior to the implementation of the proposed injunction,” she wrote.

Parr asserts that the law Reynolds signed in May violates her constitutional rights. Her sons were set to start first grade in the Council Bluffs Community School District this fall, but she is teaching them at home over fears for their safety since the school cannot require other students to wear masks.

Gogerty also said a temporary injunction is allowed when there is no other available remedy to the plaintiffs in a case. Parr also has asked Gogerty to issue an order for a universal mask mandate for all students and school personnel until a voluntary plan can be implemented that separates mask-wearing students and staff from those who refuse. That request has not yet been argued before the judge but is another available remedy, Gogerty said.

Lawyers for the state have asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming Parr has no legal standing to sue and that the court should not overturn the right of the legislative branch to make such political decisions. A hearing date was not immediately set for that motion.

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