HARRISBURG, PA (AP) – Pennsylvania can continue to enforce its mask mandate and conduct contact tracing, a federal judge ruled Friday against two families who claim the pandemic measures violate their constitutional rights.
As with most other states, Pennsylvania requires people to wear masks to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The state also has a contact tracing program that identifies and quarantines people who may have been exposed to the virus.
Plaintiffs’ lawsuit argues that masks “have become a symbol of government repression” and that wearing masks “conveys the message that the wearer has surrendered his or her freedom to the government”.
The contact tracing program is intrusive and subjects people to government surveillance, the lawsuit argues.
Both families claim to have removed their children from school and are avoiding public places where their movements could be documented due to the state’s pandemic measures.
US District Judge John E. Jones III ruled Friday against the families’ motion for an injunction that would block enforcement of the mask mandate and end the state’s tracing program. While the lawsuit “expresses real and significant constitutional concerns,” plaintiffs “have not suffered sufficient harm to warrant judicial review.”
“Almost nine months and just before a full year after this global pandemic, we are all tired,” wrote Jones, who was appointed to the Bundesbank by then President George W. Bush. “Our entire lives have changed dramatically, and in fact many of us are tired of continued efforts to contain them. However, our constitution does not allow us to consider such frustrations without concrete, specific, and non-hypothetical allegations that can be fully resolved by this court. “
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