Georgia Governor Sues Atlanta Mayor Over Masks

Brian Kemp says Keisha Lance Bottoms has no authority to enforce mask mandate
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 17, 2020 12:26 AM CDT
Georgia Governor Sues Atlanta Mayor Over Masks
In this July 17, 2019, file photo, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms speaks during a Senate Democrats' Special Committee on the Climate Crisis on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is suing Atlanta's mayor and city council to block the city from enforcing its mandate to wear a mask in public and other rules related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kemp and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, in a suit filed in state court late Thursday in Atlanta, argue that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has overstepped her authority and must obey Kemp's executive orders under state law, the AP reports. “Governor Kemp must be allowed, as the chief executive of this state, to manage the public health emergency without Mayor Bottoms issuing void and unenforceable orders which only serve to confuse the public,” the lawsuit states. Kemp on Wednesday clarified his executive orders to expressly block Atlanta and at least 14 other local governments across the state from requiring people to wear face coverings.

Kemp’s order was met with defiance Thursday by Bottoms and some other mayors, who said they would continue enforcing the order. The lawsuit forces that showdown, resolving an ambiguous situation with Kemp denying local governments could require masks and local governments arguing it was within their power. Bottoms said Thursday during a video news conference that the city's order is still in effect. The state's lawsuit asks a judge to overturn Bottoms’ orders that are more restrictive than Kemp’s, block her from issuing any more such orders, instruct the City Council not to ratify Bottoms’ actions or adopt any ordinances inconsistent with Kemp, force Bottoms not to make any public statements claiming she has authority that exceeds Kemp’s, and require city officials to enforce “all provisions” of Kemp’s existing orders. (More Brian Kemp stories.)

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