Belgian Judge Ruled Mandatory Mask Laws Unconstitutional

Written By Wyatt Claypool, Posted on January 26, 2021

According to the UK Human Rights Blog in Belgium in the Weimar District Court, a judge ruled in the case of a man charged for not complying with mandatory mask laws that the enforcement of mask-wearing was unconstitutional. 

This occurred on January 12 and the Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden had said that the public prosecutor would be appealing the ruling.

The court has recalled the two articles of law that had been related to public security that had attempted to previously justify that mandatory masking did not violate the principle of freedom of movement in the Belgian constitution. 

(Left: Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden)

(Left: Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden)

The judge was fairly reasonable to both sides of the legal argument, they acknowledged that the government was right that some restrictions to freedom can be made in the case of something like a health crisis, but that the Belgian government had failed to legislated anything to authorize the restriction to freedom and justified it with a legal argument.

The judge at one point cited the irrational enforcement of mask laws as another area in which the law is in violation of the constitution.

More specifically as regards the wearing of masks, it is clear that the minister is dealing in the same way with different situations, i.e. cases in which people find themselves alone on the street or, on the contrary, in a shopping street in the company of many fellow citizens. To settle different situations in an identical manner is a violation of the principles of equality and non-discrimination.

This situation still playing out in Belgium is quite fascinating in large part because most would assume that if there was a constitutional challenge that succeeded against mask mandates it would happen in a country where rights and constitutionality are more heavily stressed like in the United States. 

In the US on various legal blogs and websites, it is argued that mandatory masks do not violate the constitution, but it makes one wonder if that opinion would actually hold up in court if even a court in Brussels sees mandatory masking as a square peg in a constitutional round hole.

One Palm County court in Flordia refused to make an injunction against local mandatory masks laws stating that, “no constitutional right is infringed by the Mask Ordinance’s mandate … and that the requirement to wear such a covering has a clear rational basis based on the protection of public health,” which seems to avoid whether or not the notion of public health has supremacy over the US constitution, and if masks are a strong enough protection against transmission of COVID to justify them being mandatory.

Palm Beach Country Courthouse.

Palm Beach Country Courthouse.

It seems somewhat irrational to argue that the government can justify making anything mandatory in the face of a health crisis or some other temporary emergency.

At some point, constitutionality has to mean something even when the conditions of the world aren’t absolutely perfect and serene, or it becomes confusing when even someone’s free speech rights cannot be heavily curbed based on some new cultural moral panic whenever the mood strikes legislatures.

Wyatt Claypool

Wyatt is a student at Mount Royal University, where he is the president of its Campus Conservative club. In his writing, he focuses on covering provincial and federal politics, firearms regulation, and the energy sector. Wyatt has also previously written for The Post Millennial.

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