Judge Denies Missouri AG Request to Stop St. Louis County Mask Requirement

Eric Schmitt
by Joe Mueller


A Circuit Court Judge on Wednesday denied Missouri Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s request for a temporary restraining order to stop a mask requirement approved by the St. Louis County Council on Jan. 5.

Democrat Rita Heard Days, chair of the Council, didn’t know what to expect from the court.

“At this particular point, I’m not surprised about anything,” Days told The Center Square after an event in Hazelwood on Thursday. “This thing has taken a life of its own. People are trying to cope with all of this. We just hope we can get over this and move on.”

Schmitt’s office downplayed the denial of his request.

“(Wednesday), the Court issued a purely technical decision,” Schmitt, a candidate for the seat of retiring Republican U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, said in an email. “We’ve won before, and we will win again. I will never, ever stop fighting back against these COVID tyrants, who are hellbent on power and control. The facts, science, and law are on our side, and we look forward to presenting that information to the Court in the coming weeks. These COVID restrictions are ineffective, and people should have the power to make their own decisions.”

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, a Democrat, responded positively on social media.

“We are pleased with the court’s ruling,” Page wrote. “Masks and vaccines together are the way out of this pandemic…. Our health systems are begging us to keep wearing masks, get vaccinated and get boosted. Hospitals are experiencing the same staffing shortage that other businesses are, making it harder to care for those coming in with COVID and other illnesses and injuries.”

Days and three other Democrats voted to approve the mask mandate on Jan. 5, while the Council’s three Republicans voted against it. Schmitt filed a lawsuit against St. Louis County the following day. The masking requirement was withdrawn before a vote and was voted down during previous Council meetings in late 2021.

St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge Richard Stewart wrote a six-page explanation for the denial of the temporary restraining order.

“The issue before this Court is one of statutory interpretation, not politics,” Judge Stewart wrote.

In response to the request to immediately stop the mask requirement, Judge Stewart twice wrote Schmitt’s arguments weren’t likely to succeed. When addressing a third point, Judge Stewart wrote the “plaintiff has not denied the current serious nature of the COVID-19 epidemic. The St. Louis metropolitan area has reportedly set consecutive records for COVID-related hospitalizations, and related deaths in the community are rising dramatically.”

The next scheduled hearing is scheduled for Feb. 8.

“I recently told someone that I’ve seen the inside of more court houses than I ever cared to,” said Days.

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Joe Mueller covers Missouri for The Center Square. After seven years of reporting for daily newspapers in Illinois and Missouri, he spent the next 30 years in public relations serving non-profit organizations and as a strategic communications consultant.
Photo “Eric Schmitt” by US Department of Education CC BY 2.0.

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