Wearing masks vs. constitutional rights

Wearing masks vs. constitutional rights
It started in Savannah, and now more Georgia cities are also mandating masks in public. (Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - It started in Savannah, and now more Georgia cities are also mandating masks in public.

Some people said they support the order, while others claimed it violates their rights.

Attorney Joe Steffen said he isn’t surprised to hear people arguing a mask mandate violates their rights. He recalled the same discussion when wearing seat belts became law.

However, he said just like wearing seat belts, wearing a mask doesn’t violate your rights.

“Respect my rights,” chanted mask opponents in Sanford, Fla. The group protested last week that it’s their choice to wear a mask or not.

“This is a violation against our first amendment rights, our fifth amendment rights...,” said Scottsdale, Ariz. city councilman Daniel McCarthy during a rally.

“It’s very easy for folks to say something is unconstitutional that they don’t like, or that they feel like somehow infringes on some personal freedom they might have,” said Steffen.

According to Steffen, there is nothing in the constitution that says the government gives up their right to protect the health and safety of the public. In fact, he said, that’s the role of the government.

Steffen said this goes back to 1905, Jacobson vs. Massachusetts, where the Supreme Court upheld the state’s smallpox vaccination requirement.

“That case has never been overruled,” he said.

When it comes to businesses requiring masks, Steffen said it’s the same as the “No shirt, no shoes, no service” policy.

“There isn’t any constitutionally supported right that allows someone to say that ‘I’m not going to wear a mask and you have to serve me,‘” said Steffen.

The attorney said, yes, people have the right to say they won’t follow the order, but the government has the right to enforce it.

Steffen said he wouldn’t be surprised if some people take this issue to court, but based on past rulings, he doesn’t believe the argument would hold up.

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