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Refusing to wear a mask during COVID-19 outbreak is not free speech right, court rules

A federal appeals court in New Jersey ruled that residents’ refusal to wear masks at a school board meeting during the COVID-19 pandemic was not protected as free speech under the First Amendment.  

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in two similar cases claiming that the school board retaliated against the plaintiffs for refusing to wear masks at the meetings. According to the Associated Press, in one case the court sent the case back to a lower court for consideration, and in the other it said the plaintiff failed to show she was retaliated against.  

“A question shadowing suits such as these is whether there is a First Amendment right to refuse to wear a protective mask as required by valid health and safety orders put in place during a recognized public health emergency. Like all courts to address this issue, we conclude there is not,” the court said.  

Read more: Associated Press 

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