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Federal hearing over the Minnesota mask mandate at the polls

Judge Patrick Schiltz did not make a ruling but said he would soon.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota's mask mandate has been in effect now for two months. 

On Wednesday, a judge heard arguments in Federal Court from a group trying to block the mandate by election day.

After Governor Tim Walz announced the statewide mask mandate at indoor places, Secretary of State Steve Simon sent a letter to election officials telling them that if a voter shows up without a mask, and refuses curbside voting, the election officials should "record their name and address" and "report it to the appropriate authorities." 

That was one of the key things that sparked a lawsuit fighting the mask mandate.

"That was their concern" said Erick Kaardal, who is representing the groups fighting the mandate. "Is my name going to be taken down for prosecution when I come to a polling place?"

In Federal Court on Wednesday, Kaardal asked for an injunction to stop the mask mandate by election day.

He argued the mandate directly contradicts an existing Minnesota law that says wearing a mask under circumstances not listed under the Minnesota Statute is illegal.

RELATED: Voters sue Walz to block face masks at Minnesota polls

Judge Patrick Schiltz, however, was skeptical of that argument, saying "the statute is about concealing identity. 'Mask' doesn't mean any mask. It means mask used as a disguise."

Judge Schiltz added, "your clients are fighting for their right to risk infecting their fellow human beings. It's not the most noble of lawsuits."

"I think it's worth fighting for," Kaardal said. "We bring up cases like this, it shows there are branches of government not working together and it reflects badly on us." 

Kaardal says they are hoping to set precedent that can be used nationwide regarding civil rights during a pandemic. 

The judge did not rule on the case on Wednesday but said he would make his ruling soon.

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