ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) --Governor Brian Kemp has withdrawn a request for an emergency hearing in his lawsuit against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and City Council over conflicting coronavirus mandates.
News of the governor suing Bottoms was announced in early July; but before the first scheduled hearing on July 21, two judges recused themselves from the case.
A second date, July 28, was scheduled with Fulton County Judge Jane Barwick. However, before the hearing could take place, both the governor and mayor were ordered to mediation, a move that may have proved worthwhile for taxpayers.
For weeks, Georgians have watched the Republican governor and Democratic mayor clash over orders to protect people from the spread of COVID-19. Kemp's executive orders spell out that local governments cannot impose mandates that are more restrictive or less restrictive than his.
However, the governor did not take action against mayors of cities such as Savannah, Athens, East Point, College Park, and Brookhaven when they issued mask mandates.
Though supportive of the use of masks, Kemp maintained that enforcing the the use of masks was not realistic, and that all Georgians knew what needed to be done to help curb the spread of the deadly virus.
Kemp took action, though, when Atlanta's mayor issued a mask mandate, citing Bottoms' decision to also roll back her city's reopening plan. Kemp indicated he wanted to protect business owners and their employees whose livelihoods would be affected by such a rollback.
With his July 15 Executive Order, Kemp explicitly banned all local mask mandates.
"Any state, county, or municipal law, order, ordinance, rule, or regulation that requires persons to wear face coverings, masks, or shields, or any other Personal Protective Equipment while in places of public accommodation or public property are suspended to the extent that they are more restrictive than this Executive Order," read the order in part.
Here's the statement a Kemp spokesman released Monday evening regarding the withdrawal of his request for an emergency hearing:
Shortly after we filed suit against Mayor Bottoms and the Atlanta City Council, the Mayor retreated from misleading claims that the city was reverting to Phase One by shuttering specific businesses and penalizing law-abiding business owners. From the beginning, this overstep by the Mayor was our foremost concern and the primary impetus behind the litigation given the threat of economic harm and immediate backlash from Atlanta’s business community. Now, Mayor Bottoms has taken several opportunities to publicly explain that Phase One is purely voluntary, and we appreciate this concession.
To continue productive, good faith negotiations with city officials and prepare for a future hearing on the merits of our legal position, we will withdraw our motion for the emergency hearing tomorrow. Our ultimate priority remains the same: protecting the lives and livelihoods of our citizens and Georgia businesses.
We will continue to fight for hardworking Georgians and prioritize public health data and science in our decision-making.
A judge is expected to set a new date for a hearing in this case.