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A judge overruled Hochul’s mask mandate. Nassau’s executive wants the state to forego an appeal

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A state Supreme Court judge ruled on Monday that New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s indoor mask mandate is unconstitutional. This ruling comes one week before the mandate was set to expire on February 1.

The Nassau County judge, Thomas Redamaker, ruled Hochul’s order bypassed the lawmaking powers of the Legislature without a state of emergency in effect, which expired last June.

Still, James Sample, a constitutional law professor at Hofstra University, said the mask mandate is not gone yet.

“The governor's office has an option, and they’ve indicated they are going to go with this option of appealing the ruling,” Sample said. “And if the appeal is successful then the status quo that was in place prior to the judges ruling, meaning the mask mandate, remains in effect.”

The state attorney general’s office filed an appeal shortly after the judge ruled Hochul lacked the legislative authority to implement the mandate. Sample said he believes Hochul will receive a “stay” of the current mandate in the state’s highest court — New York’s Court of Appeals.

"My responsibility as governor is to protect New Yorkers throughout this public health crisis, and these measures help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” said Hochul in a statement. “We strongly disagree with this ruling, and we are pursuing every option to reverse this immediately."

Republicans have targeted the Democratic governor’s mask mandate for legislating without input from state lawmakers. Others have just dismissed COVID-19 mandates — designed to curb the spread of coronavirus — as the third year of the pandemic is underway. Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman has challenged Hochul’s authority since he was sworn in three weeks ago.

Clare is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.