Georgia Gov. Drops Mask Lawsuit Against Atlanta Mayor

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has withdrawn his lawsuit against the city of Atlanta over its mask mandate, but says he will instead sign an executive order that says local governments cannot force businesses to require that people wear the masks.

The lawsuit, which named Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the City Council, was a legal tug of war between the two politicians. He had argued that local officials could not issue measures that were more stringent than his own executive orders.

Kemp reportedly dropped the lawsuit and decided to issue the new executive orders as negotiations between himself and Bottoms broke down.

“Unfortunately, the mayor has made it clear that she will not agree to a settlement that safeguards the rights of private property owners in Georgia,” said Kemp, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We will continue to protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians.”

But Bottoms rejected Kemp’s statement as “woefully inaccurate” and said he was being intentionally misleading. But also that she was “grateful that this lawsuit has been withdrawn and the time and resources of our city and state can be better used to combat COVID-19.”

Kemp had filed the lawsuit July 16, asking a judge to overturn Bottoms’ July 10 mask mandate, which orders people to wear them in public to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. The governor said the wearing of masks was strongly encouraged, but public officials could not mandate them.

He also tried to stop her from making public statements that she had the authority to issue such mandates. Bottoms, however, publicly balked at Kemp’s contention that his authority outranked hers and other mayors when it came to protecting citizens. 

“I am not afraid of the city being sued and I’ll put our policies up against anyone’s, any day of the week,” Bottoms said when the suit was filed.

Kemp’s decision will allow Atlanta and other cities in Georgia to keep their mask mandates, but his order, which is scheduled to be signed Saturday (Aug. 14) will aim at trying to limit the mandates to government property, the AJC reported.

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