Maine town leaders pass anti-mask resolution, say mask mandates violate anti-discrimination law
03/15/2021 // Ramon Tomey // Views

The leaders of a town in Maine passed a resolution opposing a mask mandate put in place by the state's governor. Board members in the town of Paris, Maine said the mask-wearing order by Gov. Janet Mills violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. Ironically, the leader of Maine's largest people with disabilities organizations supported Mills' order.

The Paris Select Board unanimously passed the resolution during the evening of Feb. 22, with all board members wearing masks. The board resolution called on the state to "cease and desist" violating both the ADA and the U.S. Constitution. It also supported an overturn of Mills' executive order. According to the board members, the governor's mask mandate does not provide any exemptions for those with disabilities – something they argued as a form of discrimination.

Mills' mask mandate orders people to wear face coverings in public settings, whether or not they can maintain proper physical distance. She stepped the order up a notch in December 2020 by ordering establishments to bar those without masks from entering. The governor described the latest mandate: "Anyone who still insists on entering a store or other facility without wearing a mask, or insists on taking it off after they get inside, they can be and should be removed and charged with criminal trespass."

The order announced Dec. 11 provided exemptions such as curbside delivery of goods for those who have legitimate medical reasons to not wear masks. A jail time of 180 days and a $1,000 fine await those who violate Mills' COVID-19 related orders.


A similar fiasco happened in Androscoggin County over the mask mandate. On Feb. 17, county commissioners voted 1-6 to shoot down a resolution condemning the mask-wearing order. County Commissioner Isaiah Lary proposed the anti-mask resolution with the argument that Mills' order was "unconstitutional." The Republican was the only one who voted in favor of the resolution during the commissioners' virtual meeting.

The failed anti-mask resolution in Androscoggin County came after several supporters devoid of face coverings appeared in person two weeks ago to speak out on the matter. It also followed a comment by County Sheriff Eric Samson that he and his deputies would no longer attend in-person meetings unless the mask mandate was enforced.

Other states have opposed mask-wearing mandates put in place by Democrat governors

The leader of Maine's largest advocacy group for the disabled expressed opposition toward the anti-mask mandate. Disability Rights Maine Executive Director Kim Moody said her group supports Mills' mask-wearing orders and dubbed the Paris Select Board's resolution as "misguided civil disobedience."

Moody said in a statement: "We know that the vast majority of Maine people with disabilities wear face coverings when in the community because it is safer and smart. [We] want others to do the same, because many of us have compromised immune systems or are otherwise in high-risk categories." She added that her group rejects "recent attempts to misappropriate our identities and misuse important and hard-fought civil rights protections as a form of misguided civil disobedience." (Related: Analysis shows mask mandates do NOT curb surge in coronavirus cases.)

Maine joins a growing number of states who have overturned mask mandates with the Paris Select Board's Feb. 22 resolution. Most of these states shooting down their mask orders have Democratic governors – with Mills being one of them.

In Montana, GOP Gov. Greg Gianforte lifted a statewide mask mandate put in place since July of last year. The newly-elected governor repealed the order Feb. 12, sticking to a promise he made a month earlier. Gianforte's predecessor, former Gov. Steve Bullock, issued the initial order. Originally applying to Montana counties with four or more active COVID-19 cases, it was eventually expanded to cover the entire state in November 2020.

Similarly, a mask-wearing order in Wisconsin was overturned – this time by lawmakers at the state level. The Wisconsin State Senate repealed the mask mandate issued by Gov. Tony Evers last month. State senators voted 18-13 to repeal his order Jan. 26, which was set to expire in April of this year. Evers put the order in place in August 2020 amid the pandemic, but Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature called the measure an overreach of the governor's powers. (Related: Biden's federal mask mandate will not be "national," says constitutional law experts.)

As of mid-March, thirty four states still require face coverings. Recently, five states have lifted their mask mandates: Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota and Texas, while Alabama and Wyoming have set expiration dates for their mask orders.

Visit to read more about mandatory mask orders and other measures amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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