Robinson: In the showdown over masks in K-12 schools, who will blink first?

(Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)
(Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

Under our Constitution, the federal government has a duty to protect and defend the rights of all its citizens — especially the most vulnerable — from anyone or anything that seeks to violate those rights. As some states ban K-12 mask mandates, the federal government must protect our most vulnerable schoolchildren when state governments will not. Backing down will only embolden states to flout federal law and put more children at risk of illness and death.  

The good news is that if the Biden administration has the will, federal nondiscrimination laws provide it the way to intervene. The question is: Who will blink — the feds or the states? 

The legal showdowns are occurring in courts and through executive enforcement. Courts in five states have intervened to strike down or pause mask mandate bans for schools, including a Florida court ruling that allows districts to require masks. Elsewhere, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against South Carolina, and parents initiated a lawsuit against the governor of Iowa.

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