AG Rutledge to appeal court decision on mask case
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said Friday she plans to appeal the decision of a Pulaski County judge that temporarily blocked the state from enforcing its ban on mask mandates.
In a statement, Rutledge, who is seeking the GOP nod for Governor in 2022, said the decision to appeal was based on the law.
The Arkansas General Assembly met earlier this month to discuss Act 1002, but took no action on the issue.
Several proposals were brought before a House committee during the special session to amend the law to allow for masks to be used by children under the age of 12, citing public health and safety concerns.
However, lawmakers and others who attended the hearings said the proposals were an infringement on personal freedom and local control.
The Associated Press reported that Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox issued a preliminary injunction Aug. 6 in the case, which involves a Little Rock parent challenging the law as well as the Little Rock and Marion school districts.
Gov. Hutchinson said Friday that he will be asking a Northwest Arkansas law firm to represent him in the case.
“The Attorney General has always done an outstanding job in representing my office and the state of Arkansas, but it is her duty as the attorney for the state to defend Act 1002,” Gov. Hutchinson said in a media release. “I have expressed the view that Act 1002 should have been amended and questions need to be raised as to the constitutionality of the law. Generally speaking, I support the decision of Judge Fox, and my position creates an unavoidable conflict; for that reason I have asked David R. Matthews of Matthews, Campbell, Rhoads, McClure & Thompson, P.A. to represent me. David Matthews has a special expertise in school law, and I have confidence that he will represent me effectively in the current litigation.”
Also, two legislative leaders said Friday they will be asking a Little Rock law firm to represent them in the case.
House Speaker Matthew Shepherd (R-El Dorado) and Senate President Pro Tempore Jimmy Hickey (R-Texarkana) said they will be asking Dover Dixon Horne, PLLC of Little Rock to represent them in their official capacities in the litigation.
“We have conferred with the Attorney General and her staff as we evaluated how best to proceed. We appreciate their representation of us to this point. However, given the number of parties and the potential for multiple conflicts, we believe our interests, in this case, are best served through retaining separate counsel,” Shepherd and Hickey said. “While we understand there are many different opinions as to the specific legislation at issue, the important role of the legislative branch must be preserved among our three, separate but equal, branches of government.”
Region 8 News will have more details as they become available.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.