The lawsuit claims that masks are a form of “political expression” forced upon patriotic residents by a “tyrannical” government.
Two Pennsylvania couples have sued Gov. Tom Wolf, claiming that he is acting like a “king” by requiring residents to wear masks in public places.
PennLive.com reports that the lawsuit is largely concerned with Wolf’s exercise of executive powers amidst the ongoing coronavirus crisis. At particular issue is Wolf’s mandate that Pennsylvania residents wear masks in private businesses and public places.
Mask mandates, claim the plaintiffs, are unconstitutional and are, in effect, a form of political expression which have been unduly imposed upon Pennsylvanians.
According to PennLive.com, the plaintiffs—identified as Chad Parker, Rebecca Kenwick-Parker, and Mark and Donna Redman—filed their lawsuit in a U.S. Middle District Court. They are represented by the right-wing, Michigan-based American Freedom Law Center.
In their complaint, the plaintiffs have asked Chief Judge John E. Jones III to rule that Wolf’s orders violate Pennsylvanians’ First Amendment right to freedom of expression.
“Wearing a face mask during this current and highly politicized pandemic has become a form of expression,” the lawsuit states. “The face mask is, for many […] a symbol of oppression and government tyranny. It is a sign that the wearer is willing to surrender his or her freedoms to the government.”
To bolster their suit’s chances of success, the Parkers and Redmans made a serious of scientifically dubious claims. They have asserted, for instance, that “science and data have shown” that wearing a mask “is not medically required or necessary, and [that] it is harmful to the wearer.”
There are few, if any, mainstream medical studies which concur with either couple’s assessment of masking’s efficacy in curbing the spread of novel coronavirus.
Nevertheless, the lawsuit alleges that Gov. Wolf—along with Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine and state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who are also listed as defendants on the complaint—is using mask mandates as an unusual form of propaganda.
“[…] The propaganda message from defendants Wolf and Levine is that masks are required any time an individual leaves the home,” the lawsuit says.
The Philly Voice notes that the lawsuit equates Wolf’s exercise of executive powers with monarchical authorities.
“Defendant Wolf has assumed the power to lord over the lives of Pennsylvanians like a king, mandating restrictions that deprive citizens, including plaintiffs, of their fundamental liberties,” the lawsuit states. “The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ratified this ‘monarchical innovation.’ The citizens of Pennsylvania have no recourse but to seek relief from this tyranny through the United States Constitution and this court, the guardian of the freedoms guaranteed by that historically important document.”
Somewhat comically, the lawsuit goes on to purport that the Parkers were oppressed by the state’s coronavirus tracing program—because they were asked to self-quarantine after testing positive for the disease.
The Voice reports that, since the beginning of the pandemic in March, Pennsylvania has registered nearly 150,000 cases of novel coronavirus, an estimated 8,000 of which ended in death.