Republican Colorado House candidates sue over mandatory mask orders

Coronavirus

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. (KDVR) — Two Republican candidates for the Colorado House of Representatives announced Friday that they are suing over state and local orders requiring most people to wear masks in public spaces.

Donna Walter and Mark Milliman filed the lawsuit in federal court. It claims neither the governor nor local health departments have the authority to issue such orders.

Attorney Mark C. Patlan is representing Walter and Milliman pro bono.

“Healthy people do not spread SAR-CoV-2,” Patlan said in a press release. “Science doesn’t support the governor’s assertion that it does either. Transmission from healthy people is extremely rare at worst and does not justify forcing the healthy to wear masks that are ineffective, in any case. This is symbolic.”

Patlan’s claim is not backed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which says asymptomatic people can spread the virus and that masks are an effective way to prevent that spread.

“COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and do not know that they are infected. That’s why it’s important for everyone to wear cloth face coverings in public settings and practice social distancing,” the CDC states on its website.

However, language from the World Health Organization is less clear — something Milliman noted.

“The World Health Organization calls asymptomatic spread is a big open question or
extremely rare. Public health data doesn’t justify mask mandates for healthy people,” Milliman said. “The Governor promised data-driven policy but gave us, instead, arbitrary and
capricious policy based on hunches, wild exaggerations, and politics.”

Patlan argues that mask mandates are compelled speech, which the First and 14th Amendments protect against.

“The Governor is facing businesses with a lose-lose proposition,” Walter said. “They are required to act as public health enforcers of illegal mandates or face financial exposure or even having to close their doors.”

Milliman is running to represent House District 11 in Boulder County; Walter is running to represent House District 52 in Larimer County.

“Some call this a political lawsuit, and they are partly right,” Walter said. “It’s about political principles like free speech, rule of law, and much more. The government can’t force us to scare each other to death.”

In addition to Polis, the defendants in the case are Boulder County Public Health Executive Director Jeffrey J. Zayach, Larimer County Public Health Director Tom Gonzalez
and Fort Collins City Manager Darin Atteberry.

“The plaintiffs seek declaratory relief to declare mask mandates for the healthy to be
unlawful compelled speech, and injunctive relief to halt enforcement of unlawful mask mandates that expose private businesses to financial liability,” the press release announcing the lawsuit states.

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