Do Mask Requirements Violate Your Constitutional Rights?
When "non-essential" Maine business first started reopening, the governor made it a requirement that people needed to wear a mask when "social distancing was not possible". In theory, this included retail spaces and while going to and from your table at restaurants.
More recently, due to an increase in tourist traffic along Maine's coast, and several incidents that went viral on social media, Governor Mills announced she would sign a mandate that would require the enforcement of mask usage.
Not surprisingly, some people feel this requirement is unconstitutional. So, is it? Or, is it within the government's right to require you to wear a mask in public?
The staff at WCSH 6 did some digging to find the answer.
University of Maine constitutional law professor Dmitry Bam says that people will typically point to the 14th Amendment as their reasoning for not following similar guidelines mandated by the government. The 14th Amendment prevents the state from depriving "any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;". According to Bam, that defense typically would not hold up in court, however, as the government typically has the right to impose restriction for the preservation of public health.
And, when it comes to businesses enforcing the mandate, Cumberland County District Attorney Jonathan Sahrbeck says that businesses are allowed to run their operations as they see fit, as long as they do not discriminate against a specific group of people. A good example of this is, "No shirt, No Shoes, No Service".
With regard to those who are not able to wear a mask, all the business needs to do is solve the problem. They do not need to waive the mask requirement. Solving the problem could include curb-side pickup or a delivery service.
So, based on WCSH's report, it does not appear that Governor Mills' mandate violates the constitutional rights of Maine's citizens.
Regardless of how you feel about mask and social distancing requirements, please be kind to the employees and owners of stores, restaurants, and attractions. They are only doing what has been asked of them by their employers and the government.