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Anti-mask group suing Hailey files new complaint against school district trustees

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An anti-mask organization is now suing multiple entities in Blaine County over face covering requirements.

The Sandpoint-based Health Freedom Defense Fund argues the city of Hailey’s mask mandate violates "fundamental human rights" and is unlawful. Boise lawyer Deborah Ferguson is representing the city and asked a federal judge to dismiss the case this week.

Her motion argued the U.S. Supreme Court gives state and local governments responsibility for addressing matters related to COVID-19 and the Idaho Legislature gives cities authority to protect public health. It also noted there are several exceptions to Hailey's mask order.

Leslie Manookian, the president of Health Freedom Defense Fund, is a Blaine County resident, and said earlier this month that the organization would fight other face mask ordinances in the Wood River Valley.

Manookian said the fund, which formed in Aug. 2020, has been involved with, or has in the works, 15-20 different lawsuits.

The fund also joined two Blaine County couples in a complaint filed last week against the school district board of trustees. The Blaine County School District requires students and staff to wear masks at school and on school buses.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

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