Court dismisses Freedom Foundation challenge to Oregon’s mask mandate

By AP staff (AP)
PORTLAND, Ore. Sept. 29, 2021 9:48 p.m.

The Oregon Court of Appeals on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Kate Brown’s initial mask mandate, saying the requirements have been revised so many times the issue is moot.

The conservative Freedom Foundation asked the Oregon Court of Appeals in July 2020 to temporarily invalidate masking rules as the court delved further into the legalities of the order.

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The group alleged that Brown and the Oregon Health Authority didn’t follow legal procedures in mandating masks in all public indoor spaces and outdoors when 6 feet of physical distancing can’t be maintained.

Governor Kate Brown wears an orange traffic safety vest and a mask that has the words "Get covered 2021" printed on it.

Gov. Kate Brown tours a drive-thru mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Portland International Airport, in a file photo from April 9, 2021. The Oregon Court of Appeals on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 200, dismissed a lawsuit challenging Brown’s initial mask mandate.

Kristyna Wentz-Graff/ OPB

The Oregon Health Authority maintained that mandate stemmed from an executive order by Brown and wasn't subject to review as an administrative rule by the Oregon Court of Appeals.

While the appeals court didn’t necessarily buy that argument, it didn’t matter. The 2020 mask order has since been superseded.

“In other words, in more ways than one, we no longer inhabit the same world as we did at the time the OHA issued the guidance that petitioners have challenged,” the appeals court wrote. “That means this rule-review proceeding is moot under our case law.”

Brown reinstated an indoor and outdoor face covering requirement this summer, with adults and most children required to wear masks in public settings. Children under the age of 5 are exempt from the mandate.

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