Brooklyn judge reinstates NY mask mandate

January 26, 2022 Raanan Geberer
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New York State’s indoor mask mandate is back in effect, courtesy of an Appellate Division judge in Brooklyn.

On Tuesday, Justice Robert J. Miller of the Appellate Division, Second Department on Monroe Place, temporarily blocked a ruling earlier this week by Justice Thomas Rademaker of Nassau County Supreme Court, who said that requiring masks violated the state constitution, according to The New York Times.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James had asked for a stay of Justice Rademaker’s ruling. “A judge has granted our motion to keep New York’s mask mandate in place while our appeal process continues,” she tweeted after Judge Miller’s action. “Protecting the health of New Yorkers during the #COVID19 pandemic is our top priority.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul had imposed the mask-mandate rule last month during a surge in COVID-19 cases last month driven by the Omicron variant, which is now on the decline. After Rademaker’s ruling, Hochul immediately said she would fight the decision, according to news reports.

In a decision from the Second Department Appellate Division, four judges unanimously ruled that NYPD cannot help ICE arrest immigrants. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese
The home of the Appellate Division, Second Department, on Monroe Place in Brooklyn Heights. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese

After Judge Miller’s ruling, Hochul said in a statement, “I commend the Attorney General for her defense of the health and safety of New Yorkers, and applaud the Appellate Division, Second Department for siding with common sense and granting an interim stay to keep the state’s important masking regulations in place. We will not stop fighting to protect New Yorkers, and we are confident we will continue to prevail.”

Even beforehand, in the wake of the Long Island judge’s earlier ruling, New York State education officials had told school administrators to continue enforcing the state’s mask mandate for students and teachers because of the ongoing legal action.

Hon. Robert Miller. Eagle file photo by Mario Belluomo
Hon. Robert Miller. Eagle file photo by Mario Belluomo

“While these legal steps occur, it is NYSED’s position that schools should continue to follow the mask rule,” said department spokesperson Emily DeSantis on Tuesday.

In New York City, even before Judge Miller’s ruling, Mayor Eric Adams said on Tuesday that mask mandates in New York City schools would remain in effect, according to the New York Post.

In a radio interview on 1010 WINS radio on Tuesday morning, Adams said, “I believe it’s unfortunate that it was struck down, and I believe those jurisdictions that are using it as an opportunity to remove mandates are making a big mistake. We need to follow the science, not the fears that is actually coming with this virus. We’re going to continue our mandates in schools.”

Still, in some districts, especially on Long Island, administrators immediately made masking optional for students and staff.

On Monday, the ruling had been applauded by some New York Republicans, including Representative Elise Stefanik, who represents the northernmost counties in New York, according to CNN. 

She said it was a “win for small businesses, parents, students, and the freedom of all New Yorkers. Governor Hochul’s authoritarian mandates were crushing New York small businesses that already have faced unprecedented challenges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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