TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jul 27, 2020

With debates regarding the legality of mask mandates taking place across the state, Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III issued an opinion Friday saying that mandates are constitutionally defensible. Slatery wrote in the opinion that for more than a century, the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that “a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members.” Slatery continued that “courts can only overturn orders that have no “real or substantial relation” to protecting public health or are “beyond all question, a plain, palpable invasion of rights secured by the fundamental law.” He also addressed the complaint that mask mandates trample on personal liberty. Slatery found that while personal liberty is guaranteed by both the state and U.S. constitutions, that does not mean individuals are "wholly freed from restraint." Liberty can be regulated, he said, when it is for the greater good of the community. Read more in the Tennessean.