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VERIFY: Does the face mask mandate violate the Washington state constitution?

Republican gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp has claimed on multiple occasions that Gov. Jay Inslee's face mask mandate goes against the state's constitution.

Loren Culp is the Republican candidate running for governor against Democratic incumbent Jay Inslee this November. Culp has claimed that “mask mandates” go against the Washington state constitution.

THE QUESTION

Does Gov. Inslee's face mask mandate violate the Washington state constitution? 

THE ANSWER

No, it does not violate the state's constitution. 

WHAT WE FOUND

On multiple occasions, Culp has claimed Inslee’s mask mandate for COVID-19 goes against the Washington state constitution.

He’s done it in virtual meetings with campaign supporters, on his own “Culp-for-Governor” Facebook page, and in multiple media interviews, including with KING 5 on Aug. 7: "That's [the mask mandate] not abiding by the constitution," Culp said in the interview.

But, is that true? 

Hugh Spitzer is a University of Washington law professor who teaches Washington State Constitutional Law.

"I don’t really know where he gets that notion," said Spitzer. "Our individual rights are always restricted based on community needs. So for example, you might think that you have a right to walk up and punch somebody in the face, but you don’t. That’s not a freedom that we have. And it’s the same with being dangerous for other people by breathing viruses on them."

On his Facebook page in April, Culp also said, "Imagine if our governor, for reasons of public safety, declared a 'State of Emergency' and declared we could not drive cars anymore."

To which, Spitzer responded: "The governor is not a dictator. He/she can’t just issue orders whenever they feel like it. And if there’s a health emergency, that’s one of the specific things where a statue gives the governor to take action to protect public health. Those actions are subject to certain rules, but the governor seems to be following those rules."

KING 5 checked the state constitution itself, the governor’s statutes, and confirmed with a state constitutional expert that Culp’s claim that face mask mandates go against the Washington constitution are false.