U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers declined to strike down Gov. Jim Justice’s mask mandate today.
This is the second federal ruling — on top of three state court rulings — to uphold the governor’s use of emergency powers during the pandemic.
In this instance, a Putnam County business, Bridge Café and Bistro in Hurricane, was trying to get a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order. The restaurant contended that the mask order violates federal constitutional protections, including people’s right to free speech in the sense that masks have become a political issue.
A lawyer for the restaurant, John Bryan, contended that the governor’s positions — including the stated possibility of obstruction of justice charges — are an overreach of state law. Bryan emphasized how long the governor’s emergency orders have been in effect without any legislative action.
Chambers concluded those arguments were unlikely to prevail on the merits.