Trial Begins on Arkansas Law Banning Mask Mandates


Trial Begins on Arkansas Law Banning Mask Mandates
The Pulaski County Courthouse (Scott Carroll)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas judge is holding a trial on whether to strike down a state law he's temporarily blocked that bans mask mandates by schools and other governmental entities.

The trial began Monday morning before Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox, who in August issued a preliminary injunction preventing the state from enforcing the ban.

Fox ruled the law violates Arkansas' constitution, saying it discriminates between public and private school students. He said it also infringes on the governor's emergency powers, as well as the authority of county officials and the state Supreme Court.

More than 100 school districts and public charter schools approved mask mandates following Fox's order, though many lifted or relaxed them as the state's COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases decreased.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the ban into law in April, but he has since said he regretted that decision and agreed with Fox's ruling against it.