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Sabatini loses case against Leon County mask ordinance

A circuit judge has ruled against a lawsuit filed by State Rep. Anthony Sabatini to overturn Leon County’s mask ordinance.

State Rep. Anthony Sabatini, shown arguing his case during a Zoom hearing, plans to appeal a ruling that upheld the Leon County mask ordinance. Image: Florida Channel

Sabatini, a Republican from Howey-in-the-Hills, regularly tweets and files lawsuits against restrictions designed to battle COVID-19.

In this case, his client claims the Leon County ordinance violates his rights to privacy, due process, equal protection and religious freedom.

Sabatini argued today that more people died of hernias in the county last year than have died from COVID-19. By the way, that doesn’t quite check out — the Department of Health reports two hernia deaths compared to eight so far from the coronavirus.

In an exchange with Judge John Cooper, Sabatini wondered why Leon County hasn’t taken action.

“And to stop people from physically moving around so that we can prevent this horrible onset of hernias. I’m not sure why that hasn’t happened yet,” the lawyer said.

“Well, the good news, Mr. Sabatini, at least as far as I last checked, hernias aren’t contagious,” said the judge.

Cooper spelled out the medical consensus on wearing masks. He upheld the ordinance as a fact-based measure to combat a, quote, “deadly disease” and said it did not violate constitutional rights.

“It seems to me,” he added, “a very good argument could be made (that) if the commission had not passed this ordinance they could be charged with being irresponsible.”

At the beginning, the Zoom hearing was marred by music, coarse language and pornography. A reporter for Politico tweeted a video of the bizarre interlude.


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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.