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Schmitt drops lawsuit over St. Louis County health orders

  

Attorney General Eric Schmitt withdrew a lawsuit against St. Louis County Thursday after “frivolous” health orders aimed at COVID-19 were lifted. 

Schmitt filed the suit last month, pointing to May’s “Reopen STL” order that still required masks for outdoor activities and retained mask requirements for students in the county. The suit leveled eight counts against the county — two relating to religious exercise, one on violating the right to assemble, one saying the latest order was too vague, and four alleging arbitrary orders. 

The county rescinded the order March 14, three days after the suit was filed. 

“We filed this lawsuit to lift the frivolous restrictions that were being imposed on St. Louis County residents,” Chris Nuelle, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, told The Missouri Times. “Those restrictions were lifted, undoubtedly due to our lawsuit, and the lawsuit at that point was moot, which is obviously why it was dismissed.”

Schmitt’s suit argued the orders constituted “unjustified burdens on religious, economic, and personal freedom” and “reflects arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable government action.” The suit was aimed at County Executive Sam Page and the county’s health department. 

Schmitt said he wrote to Page and the department outlining his concerns shortly before the order was enacted, requesting an end to the “seemingly unending control over people’s lives.” The county still recommends masks for those who have not been vaccinated.  

The county’s leadership has drawn fire from several critics over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic: A coalition of Missouri restaurants joined a suit over restrictions on restaurants and bars in the county last year, and a push to curb local health officials’ power failed in the Senate in March, with opponents citing concerns about tying the hands of local officials in the case of future emergencies. Page was mentioned as the target of the legislation during its time on the floor.