Florida state circuit court Judge John C. Cooper has just ruled from the bench that Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ executive order banning mask mandates and blocking local school boards from implementing those protective measures is “without legal authority” and is “arbitrary and capricious.” A group of parents supporting mask mandates sued the Republican governor, believing his order violates the state’s constitution.
DeSantis exceeded his authority in signing the executive order, Judge Cooper ruled.
“The Parents’ Bill of Rights does not authorize the governor, the state board of education, or the department of education to tell school boards you cannot institute a mask mandate,” Cooper declared.
DeSantis signed that bill earlier this year, and has repeatedly pointed to that new law when claiming school boards enacting face mask mandates are acting illegally. The judge says that’s wrong.
“Parents’ rights are very important, I’m a parent,” Cooper says, “but they’re not without some reasonable limitations.”
Florida law “does not support a statewide order, or any action interfering with the constitutionally provided authority of local school districts to provide for the safety and health of children, based on the unique facts on the ground in a particular county,” Cooper added.
“Face mask policies that follow CDC policies are reasonable at this time,” Cooper said. “The Parents’ Bill of Rights does not ban face mask mandates.”
The judge provided massive amounts of evidence discrediting DeSantis’ order, telling the state the studies it provided were made before the delta variant was the dominant strain, and called the CDC the “pre-eminent medical authority in U.S.” and the “gold standard.”
Judge Cooper does not sound impressed with one of the governor’s infamous COVID roundtable meetings – a video of which the state submitted as evidence (lol) – because there were statements made about incompetence of the CDC without evidence. https://t.co/1XauKhbxS9
— Nate Monroe (@NateMonroeTU) August 27, 2021
Judge Cooper knocked down several false claims made by the DeSantis administration and his advisors, including that masks are “child abuse,” and that children cannot spread the coronavirus to adults.
He also embarrassed the governor’s office, stating evidence they submitted stated schools that adopted face mask mandates had 37% fewer coronavirus cases.
Further embarrassing the administration, Judge Cooper stated the executive order mischaracterized a law known as the Parents’ Bill of Rights.
Judge Cooper said the rights of citizens are limited when exercising those rights would harm others. Laws and orders should only exist when they preserve the general welfare.
— Joe McLean (@JoeMcLeanNews) August 27, 2021
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Watch: Speaker Pelosi Excitedly Announces House Passage of Same-Sex Marriage Protection Bill – 169 Republicans Vote No
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Respect for Marriage Act, which protects same-sex and interracial marriages at the federal level and requires states to recognize those marriages if they were legal at the time they were entered into. The legislation comes after far right Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas called for cases to overturn rulings that made constitutional contraception, same-sex intimacy, and same-sex marriage.
The final vote was 258-169. All Democrats voted yes, 39 Republicans joined the Democrats, but 169 Republicans voted no.
The bill now heads to President Joe Biden, who has said he will sign it into law.
Far right House Republicans who have built their political careers by attacking the LGBTQ community, voiced extremist attacks on the bill.
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) broke down in tears as she begged her colleagues to vote against protecting the marriages of same-sex and interracial couples.
Hartzler, first elected to Congress in 2010, has been a spokesperson for a Missouri anti-LGBTQ organization, and worked to block passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Hartzler says her priority is protecting people who believe in the true meaning of marriage and then starts to cry while she asks for her colleagues to vote against marriage equality pic.twitter.com/yk7loKCd4G
— Acyn (@Acyn) December 8, 2022
Rep. Bob Good (R-VA) equated same-sex marriages with polygamy, bestiality, and “child marriage.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in one of her final acts in that role, gaveled in the vote.
Watch below or at this link.
.@SpeakerPelosi: “The motion is adopted.”
U.S. House votes to protect same-sex marriage, 258-169-1.
Goes now to the president. pic.twitter.com/QOH11zqLxK
— CSPAN (@cspan) December 8, 2022
‘She Is Safe – She Is on Her Way Home’: Biden Announces Release of Brittney Griner in US Coordinated Prisoner Swap
President Joe Biden Thursday morning announced the United States has arranged for the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner, held for months by Russia and recently sent to a prison work camp, known as a penal colony or “gulag.”
“Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones,” President Biden said, with Griner’s wife, Cherelle, by his side.
“Moments ago, standing together with her wife Cherelle in the Oval Office, I spoke with Brittney Griner,” President Biden told Americans. “She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home after months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances. Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones, and she should have been there all along.”
After President Biden’s remarks, Cherelle Griner spoke, saying, “Today my family is whole.”
“Today my family is whole, but as you all are aware, there are so many other families who are not whole,” Cherelle Griner, wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner, says after her release from Russian detention https://t.co/SxnOf9QXfn pic.twitter.com/nBpd1HFnUV
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) December 8, 2022
Biden noted that Griner had written to him, saying she asked for no special treatment, just to remember her and other prisoners, including Paul Whelan.
“We’ve not forgotten about Paul Whelan, who’s been unjustly detained in Russia for years,” Biden said during his remarks Thursday morning. Whelan, a former Marine, is accused of spying by Russia.
The President complimented Griner, saying she has shown “grit” and “dignity,” and “represents the best about America.”
— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) December 8, 2022
Griner was arrested in Russia on smuggling charges in February.
The U.S. State Dept. in May announced Griner had been “wrongfully detained,” and stepped up efforts to get her released.
The Biden administration traded Griner for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in what CNBC called “one of the most high-profile prisoner swaps between Moscow and Washington since the Cold War.”
Over the summer Donald Trump, siding with Russia, strongly suggested he would not have worked to get Griner released. The disgraced ex-president called the WNBA star and Olympic gold medal winner “spoiled,” and wrongly claimed she had entered Russia “loaded up with drugs.”
Watch videos of President Biden’s and Cherelle Griner’s remarks above, his full remarks below, or at this link:
WATCH: Complete remarks from President Biden on release of Brittney Griner from Russia. pic.twitter.com/QaG41PCarG
— CSPAN (@cspan) December 8, 2022
J6 Committee Announces Plan for Final Report
The U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack is wrapping up its 17-month long investigation and has announced its plan for its final report.
Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) Wednesday evening told reporters the committee will issue a final report in two weeks, on December 21. A “formal presentation” will accompany the final report, Axios’ Andrew Solender reports.
What form the presentation will take is unclear. Presumably it will not be a primetime televised hearing.
Chairman Thompson told reporters, “there will be some form of public presentation. We haven’t decided exactly what that would be,” Grayer says.
NBC reporters say that date is “a bit later than the committee was hoping and it forced some members and staff to change holiday plans.”
“In addition to considering a referral involving former President Donald Trump,” NBC News reports, “the committee could offer contempt of Congress referrals for fellow members who have ignored its subpoenas, for witnesses it believes lied to its investigators and for individuals it believes attempted to intimidate witnesses in the probe.”
“The report will be a massive compilation of the work the committee has done for the last year and a half, outlining its findings and offering up recommendations and possible legislation to prevent something like the Jan. 6 attack from happening again. Thompson has said the document could be up to eight chapters.”
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