A group of Connecticut parents challenging the state’s school mask requirement are looking to put the issue before the state Supreme Court with attorney Norman Pattis taking over for the two Republican lawmakers who brought the case.
In court documents filed this week, Pattis said the appeal belongs before the state’s high court because it concerns a matter of public interest.
“In bringing their suit, the appellants have raised issues that concern the rights and health of every school-age child in the state as well as the rights of their parents. Thus, they have presented a case that will ultimately end up before the Supreme Court and contains multiple issues of profound public interest,” he wrote.
The appeal stems from a lawsuit brought by two state representatives, Doug Dubitsky of Chaplin and Craig Fishbein of Wallingford. The lawmakers represented a group of parents who opposed an Education Department requirement that students wear masks in Connecticut schools to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. They argued the masks were ineffective and dangerous to students’ health and emotional well-being.
After hearing testimony, Superior Court Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher denied their request for an emergency order, saying the plaintiffs failed to prove that masks represent an imminent threat to school children.
“There is no emergency danger to children from wearing masks in schools. Indeed, there is very little evidence of harm at all and a wide ranging medical consensus that it is safe,” the judge wrote in a ruling last month.
The case is still pending in Superior Court where the state Attorney General’s Office filed additional paperwork Tuesday urging Moukawsher to dismiss the lawsuit.
But the plaintiffs have already contested the judge’s ruling that the situation did not represent an emergency. They appealed that decision in documents filed three days before Thanksgiving. Pattis is now asking the court to move the appeal directly before the Supreme Court, where he said it should have been filed initially.
“The appellants, however, were unsure of their next move, and, in the face of a rapidly approaching appeals deadline, they chose to preserve their appellate rights by filing the appeal directly with this Court,” he wrote.
The case is one of several legal challenges to government actions taken under the authority of Gov. Ned Lamont’s pandemic-related emergency powers.
On Monday, a Superior Court judge in Waterbury dismissed a lawsuit by another Republican lawmaker, Sen. Rob Sampson of Wolcott, which claimed the state violated his and other business owners’ the constitutional rights when it effectively shut down businesses as part of a lockdown earlier this year.
Meanwhile, on Friday the Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in another case in which a pub owner in Milford is challenging Lamont’s authority to order bars closed in response to the pandemic. Bars have remained closed in Connecticut even as restaurants have been permitted to open on a limited basis.