Minnesota anti-mask law: Did you know that Minnesota law makes wearing a mask in public a crime?
But many today are wearing masks in public to protect from the spread of the COVID-19 virus. And that is a misdemeanor severity-level crime under this Minnesota state criminal law.
This law is yet another example of overcriminalization.
Too many laws, too much discretion in the government’s law enforcement
And these anti-mask laws have a troubling history.
They’ve enforced these laws against protesters, in denigration of the First Amendment. And even motorcyclists wearing safety gear.
So Let’s take a look at the Minnesota anti-mask law:
“A person whose identity is concealed by the person in a public place by means of a … mask, or other disguise, unless based on religious beliefs, or incidental to amusement, entertainment, protection from weather, or medical treatment, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”Minnesota Statutes §609.735 CONCEALING IDENTITY.
How many people do you see in public every day wearing a mask? Maybe you yourself do. After all, wearing a mask to prevent spreading the contagious Novel Coronavirus is reasonable.
Of course, prevention of COVID-19 virus spread does not fit the “medical treatment” exception.
What is the definition of medical treatment? According to OSHA, “‘Medical treatment’ means the management and care of a patient to combat disease or disorder.”
“Medical treatment is defined in the recordkeeping requirements at [OSHA] 1904.7(b)(i). Medical treatment means the management and care of a patient to combat disease or disorder. Visits to a health care professional or a hospital for observation, testing, diagnosis or to evaluate diagnostic decisions are excluded from the definition of medical treatment. Diagnostic procedures are used to determine whether an injury or illness exists, and do not involve the therapeutic treatment of the patient.”Minnesota Safety Council
Equal Justice, Under the Law?
But the law is the law. So commit the crime, do the time, right?
No one is above the law? And then we have the Minnesota anti-mask law.
Can they require you to wear a mask?
No, not in criminal violation of current Minnesota law.
In Minnesota, wearing a mask in public is still a crime, and has been since 1923.
Aiding and abetting is also a crime, Minnesota Statutes §609.05; as is conspiracy, §609.175. So, aiding and abetting someone to illegally wear a mask in public is also a crime in Minnesota.
And, a plan to wear a mask in public, plus a concrete step towards completing that plan; is a Minnesota conspiracy crime.
So a person helping or encouraging another to wear a mask in public to prevent contagion; is also committing a crime in Minnesota today.
Discriminatory enforcement of the Minnesota anti-mask law
Rare enforcement, is discriminatory: Discretionary enforcement means discriminatory enforcement.
The government enforces the Minnesota anti-mask law, like many others, against disfavored people.
Sometimes that disfavor is conscious, like protesters. But sometimes that disfavor is unconscious, like race.
And what about those with favor and privilege, like police wearing masks?
Make no mistake, though. This is an evil law.
It causes irreparable harm to our on free society. And it is a tool in service of a police state.
And now during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all criminals. So now is the time to ring the Liberty Bell.
Emergency legislation to repeal the Minnesota anti-mask law, now
Should laws have credibility or public acceptance?
The Minnesota legislature should enact an emergency repeal of this law now. We don’t need another “exception.”
Some say: “why bother repealing a law rarely enforced?” But that’s the wrong question.
The real question is: “Why keep a law that is rarely enforced?”
If a law is necessary, we enforce it. But if we rarely enforce violations of a law, that means the law is unnecessary.
Why does the Minnesota legislature fail to repeal a law making masks in public a crime, during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Even during the June 2020 rioting in Minneapolis, the state did not enforce this law. So what justification could there be for yet another, criminal law with no real purpose?
And in the rare hypotheticals some imagine where Minnesota’s mask crime statute could be useful; we have other laws we can enforce, like disorderly conduct.
So there really is no excuse for Minnesota’s anti-mask law, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Only one reasonable solution exists.
We need complete repeal of the Minnesota anti-mask law, now.
See our update: Why Gov’s Minnesota Mask Mandate Order Is Illegal, Unenforceable
About the author
Attorney Thomas C. Gallagher represents people facing criminal allegations. And he engages in public policy discussions of liberty, law and justice.
A Minneapolis criminal attorney, the Gallagher Criminal Defense office is conveniently located in Uptown Minneapolis near Bde Maka Ska.
His practice, Gallagher Criminal Defense, remains open.
Thomas Gallagher continues to help people during the COVID-19 response, with both its challenges and opportunities.