Tennessee Attorney General: Mask mandates constitutional

Vivian Jones
The Center Square

Tennessee’s Attorney General has issued an opinion that mandates requiring citizens to wear face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is constitutionally defensible.
The opinion addresses whether mask mandates infringe on constitutional right to liberty and freedom of speech, and whether local governments have authority to issue such mandates. In both cases Attorney General Herbert Slatery wrote that mandated mask wearing is constitutionally defensible as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As a general proposition, a governmental mandate that requires the general population to wear face coverings in public due to the health emergency caused by COVID-19 would be constitutionally defensible,” the opinion reads.
On infringement of constitutional rights, Slatery opined that mandating facial coverings do not “impermissibly infringe on a person’s constitutional right to liberty or freedom of speech.” Citing legal challenges to Tennessee’s seat belt law and motorcycle helmet laws, in which courts found that such laws do not violate constitutional prohibitions against taking liberty without due process, Slatery found that similar challenges against mask mandates would likely not be successful.
“It follows that a challenge to a governmental face-cover mandate as violating the constitutional right to liberty is almost certain to be rejected by the courts,” the opinion reads. “The face-cover mandate is likely to be held to be a reasonable regulation to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 and would not constitute an unconstitutional infringement on liberty interests.”
According to the opinion, mask mandates also stand up to a two-pronged legal test of a community’s right to protect against disease: a mandate must have both “real or substantial relation” to the COVID-19 health crisis, and not amount to a “plain, palpable invasion of rights secured by the fundamental law.”
“Requiring a person to wear a face covering during a comparable public health crisis is no more invasive – indeed is arguably less invasive – than requiring a person to be vaccinated,” the opinion reads. “Even though some may be unconvinced that wearing face coverings is an effective way to thwart the spread of COVID-19, courts may not second-guess governmental officials when the measures they enact in response to a public health emergency are not arbitrary or unreasonable.”


  1. Michelle on July 30, 2020 at 5:03 pm

    Well see in court won’t we there are several Tennessee counties with lawsuits against over masks and civil rights funny how this post came out after lawsuits were filed

    • Mike on August 26, 2020 at 2:53 pm

      Yes Michelle I agree with you 100%! Our civil rights are being violated and we are doing nothing about it. Glad someone has finally taken it to the courts! Hope it goes Class Action!! You see, I have COPD and I simply cannot walk around in this heat (or anytime really) with anything covering my nose and mouth, the two things I breathe through but that didn’t seem to matter a whit to my doctor’s office this morning who flatly refused to allow me in to see my doctor without one! I am so angry I could chew nails and spit them out!

    • Jamie on August 31, 2020 at 7:35 pm

      It is my God given right to breathe. Stripping me of my God given right is not only unconstitutional but is morally unsound. Ya’ll don’t have enough money….you’re going to be sued out of existence.

  2. M B White on August 20, 2020 at 7:18 am

    How is this happening? The FDA does not regulate these non-medical masks that are being forced on the public. Nobody is making sure that these masks are safe and most people are wearing these without monitoring their blood oxygen. While there is a supposed “medical exception” to most of these mask ordinances, you can’t even get into a doctor’s office without a mask. Also, has the government also considered the possibility that people constantly touching/adjusting their filthy masks might be spreading the virus and making the problem worse?

    • Mike on August 26, 2020 at 2:57 pm

      M B White, My wife is forced by her employer to wear a mask all day at work. It has given her a smoker’s cough. Odd thing is; She doesn’t smoke and she never had the cough before she began wearing the mask. Same thing has happened to a good friend of mine and he is only 29 years old!! I sincerely believe the masks are doing more harm than good and mandating them is in violation of our civil rights, In equal comparison COVID 19 is NOT as deadly as SARS 1 was in 2002-2003. Perhaps that is why President Trump rarely wears one?

  3. Mike on August 26, 2020 at 2:59 pm

    First of all; I Fully support Governor Lee in his decision to not issue a statewide mandate for wearing masks! The Civil Rights of Americans is being violated on a daily basis in many localities due to the media-induced fear of a virus that is not nearly as dangerous as the SARS 1 in 2003. “SARS cases were more severe, in general. It’s estimated that 20 to 30 percent of people with SARS required mechanical ventilation. It’s estimated that 20 percent of people with COVID-19 will need to be hospitalized for treatment. A smaller percentage of this group will need mechanical ventilation.”

    So citizens of America, Land of the FREE are being herded and muzzled like sheep! Well No More!! It is time to put an end to this BS and the very first step is to get rid of that little weasel Dr. Fauci! How long has it been since he actually treated anyone? Has he had firsthand experience with the coronavirus? I don’t think so!

    It is time for the masks to come off and for us to go back to work!

  4. ton mann on December 16, 2020 at 7:40 pm

    Even though there is not empirical evidence that masks work, government can still mandate, without any real scientific evidence.

Leave a Comment