Does mandatory mask order violate constitutional rights?

Updated: Jul. 7, 2020 at 5:32 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - A mandatory mask order will go into effect on Tuesday, July 7 at 5 p.m. across Madison County.

State and local governments have a responsibility when it comes to protecting the public’s health. There is a general welfare clause that puts the community’s health and security over the argument of whether to wear a mask.

“And when you’re in public for goodness sake wear a mask,” said Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey.

[READ MORE: Face coverings now required in Madison County]

Supporters say wearing face coverings is the responsible thing to do during a health crisis. Others say a mandatory mask order violates their constitutional rights.

“The chief executive of the state, the chief executive of any city their number one priority is to protect the citizens to protect the people they work for. In other words they work for us their job is to protect us,” said Huntsville attorney Mark McDaniel.

That means states have broad authority to intervene when it comes to public health emergencies.

“The Supreme Court said look if there is a public emergency, a danger to the public and you weigh that against the constitutional rights of the citizens if there is something to protect the entire public, the populace, you can do that and pass those kinds of laws,” said McDaniel.

McDaniel understands people feel passionate about their constitutional rights and protected liberties. However, he says in the case of a global pandemic, governing bodies have every right to step in with certain mandates. This isn’t the first time in history we’ve seen that happen.

“When you had the 1918 influenza outbreak they actually had influenza courts to make people wear masks and they gave them tickets if they didn’t wear masks,” said McDaniel.

Health leaders say this isn’t permanent but believe the order is the best insurance policy for a virus that currently has no vaccine.

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