Gov. Kathy Hochul
© Paul Martinka
A Long Island judge ruled against Gov. Kathy Hochul's controversial mask mandate on Monday — in a move that could lead to the lifting of similar orders in schools across the state.

Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Thomas Rademaker threw out a Nov. 24 rule issued by Health Commissioner Mary Bassett that led Hochul to order businesses without mandatory vaccination policies to require that all workers, customers and guests wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Thomas Rademaker said the rule amounted to "a law that was promulgated and enacted unlawfully by an Executive branch state agency, and therefore void and unenforceable as a matter of law."

And as a result, Rademaker said, the mask mandate Hochul announced on Dec. 10 "must fail as violative of the State Administrative Procedure Act."

"While the intentions of Commissioner Bassett and Governor Hochul appear to be well aimed squarely at doing what they believe is right to protect the citizens of New York State, they must take their case to the State Legislature," he wrote.

Rademaker's 6-page ruling also noted that state lawmakers had "curbed" former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, "as well as any future Governor," from issuing executive orders during a state disaster emergency.

That move came amid the sexual harassment scandal that forced Cuomo to resign in August.

The case was brought by Michael Demetriou and 13 other parents who objected to a provision in Bassett's rule that allowed her to order masking in "certain settings," including schools.

The Dec. 28 suit was brought "on behalf of all minor school children and persons similarly situated."

The state Department of Health in August ordered all students, faculty and staff members in public and private schools to wear masks but it's unclear if Rademaker's ruling would affect New York City, which imposed its own mask requirement on public schools.

The plaintiffs' lawyer, Chad LaVeglia, said Bassett had "circumvented the entire democratic process" and "enhanced her own power to make law, and they just can't do that."

"It's not about the pandemic, it's about the law," he said.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman — an outspoken opponent of Hochul's mask mandate — called Rademaker's decision "a tremendous victory for the people of New York State, especially the school kids."

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, who previously rejected Hochul's mandate and said he wouldn't enforce it, applauded Rademaker's decision.

"So many parents came to me and said that they didn't feel it was healthy for their children to be forced to wear masks and they wanted to have that choice and I agree," he said.

In a prepared statement, Hochul said the state would appeal.

"My responsibility as Governor is to protect New Yorkers throughout this public health crisis, and these measures help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives," she said.

"We strongly disagree with this ruling, and we are pursuing every option to reverse this immediately."

The State Department of Health said the appeal "will result in an automatic stay that will unambiguously restore the mask rule until such time as an appellate court issues a further ruling."

"Therefore, schools must continue to follow the mask rule," they said in a statement.