Virus Outbreak Georgia

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks about COVID-19 during a news conference at the Georgia state Capitol on Wednesday, April 8, 2020, in Atlanta.

(The Center Square) – Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp filed a lawsuit Thursday against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the Atlanta City Council over the city's mask-wearing mandate and their failure to enforce his executive orders.

Kemp signed a new executive order Wednesday that extended current restrictions meant to fight the spread of COVID-19. The order encourages the use of face masks but does not require it. The order also explicitly restricts local governments from issuing any mandates regarding face masks or shields that are more restrictive than the order.

"This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times," Kemp tweeted. "These men and women are doing their very best to put food on the table for their families while local elected officials shutter businesses and undermine economic growth.

"Just like sending in the [Georgia National Guard] to protect those living in our capital city from crime and violence, I refuse to sit back and watch as disastrous policies threaten the lives and livelihoods of our citizens," Kemp's tweet thread continued. "We will fight to stop these reckless actions and put people over pandemic politics."

Bottoms, who tested positive for COVID-19 last week, responded, also via Twitter.

"3104 Georgians have died and I and my family are amongst the 106k who have tested positive for COVID-19," Bottoms tweeted. "Meanwhile, I have been sued by [Gov. Kemp] for a mask mandate. A better use of tax payer money would be to expand testing and contact tracing. #ATLStrong"

The lawsuit argues local governments, including Atlanta, do not have the authority to regulate or control the state. As mayor of Atlanta, the lawsuit reads, Bottoms is charged with implementing the terms of Kemp's executive orders within the city, and she does not have the authority to modify, change or ignore them.

"Neither Mayor Bottoms nor the City Council of Atlanta have done anything to enforce Governor Kemp's statewide Executive Orders," the lawsuit reads. "Mayor Bottoms tied the hands of the Atlanta Police Department by instructing them not to enforce Governor Kemp's Executive Orders, including but not limited to, the restriction on gatherings of more than 50 people."

The lawsuit seeks to have the court declare that Bottoms exceeded her authority by issuing orders more restrictive than the governor's and grant an injunction to stop Bottoms from issuing additional orders that are more or less restrictive than Kemp's. It also seeks to stop the enforcement of her orders, among other things.

Managing Editor

Jason Schaumburg is an award-winning, veteran editor who has been a journalist for more than 20 years. He spent a decade as the top editor in three northern Illinois newsrooms for Shaw Media and Pioneer Press.