In a blow to Democrats committed to exerting control over the health choices of individuals in the Lone Star State, the Texas Supreme Court issued a temporary halt on lower court decisions that permitted local governments to impose mask mandates of the sort banned by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, as CBS News reports.
The ruling at issue extends to both Dallas and Bexar counties, jurisdictions in which officials had recently implemented mask mandates of one form or another, moves that had previously been upheld in the face of lower court challenges.
Those local mandates, however, flew in the face of an executive order issued by Abbott back in May, which barred governmental entities in the state from requiring any group of residents to wear masks, a prohibition that included school districts, as Politico noted.
Though the 4th and 5th Courts of Appeals last week held that mask mandates could indeed be implemented on the local level, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton swiftly announced the state’s plan to appeal to the state’s high court, something which ultimately led to the temporary order issued on Sunday.
In response to the state Supreme Court’s decision upholding the ban on mask mandates and noting its implications for schools, at least for now, Paxton’s office tweeted, “Local mask mandates are illegal under GA-38. Let this ruling serve as a reminder to all ISDs and Local officials that the Governor’s order stands.”
The effect of the ruling is to block the imposition of mask mandates in the counties at issue until the cases can be fully heard, and a hearing on the controversy in Dallas County is scheduled to take place on Aug. 24, as the Washington Examiner noted.
Defiant in the face of the temporary order, Clay Jenkins, the chief executive for Dallas County, asserted on Sunday that he fully plans to prevail when the matter goes back to court, saying, “We won’t stop working with parents, doctors, schools, business + others to protect you and intend to win that hearing.”
The Dallas Independent School District said on Sunday evening that it will continue requiring masks for anyone entering onto district property, and visitors will continue to be banned from school property, according to CBS News, though the Irving ISD indicated that it would comply with the high court’s ruling that temporarily blocked such mandates.
In perhaps the ultimate expression of common sense on the issue, in responding to the decision on Sunday, Abbott pointed out that a ban on mask mandates “doesn’t prohibit using masks” and that “anyone who wants to wear a mask can do so, including in schools,” something which rightly leaves individuals with the liberty to decide for themselves.