Texas officials ask court to block Dallas County mask mandate


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and state Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) are asking an appeals court to strike down an order issued by Dallas County that would require residents to wear masks in schools and businesses.

The two argued on Wednesday that the decision violates an executive order that was issued by Abbott in late July that said that no government entity, including cities, counties, school districts and public health authorities, could require people to wear masks. 

They also argued that the Texas Disaster Act gives the governor the ability to decide how the state responds to state emergencies. 

“Under Executive Order GA-38, no governmental entity can require or mandate the wearing of masks,” Abbott said in a statement. “The path forward relies on personal responsibility—not government mandates. The State of Texas will continue to vigorously fight the temporary restraining order to protect the rights and freedoms of all Texans.”

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins issued the executive order earlier Wednesday requiring face coverings in all schools, businesses and county buildings. The move came after a district judge granted a temporary restraining order against Abbott’s executive order, which Jenkins had filed earlier that week. 

“The citizens of Dallas County have and will continue to be damaged and injured by Governor Abbott’s conduct,” the district judge’s order said, according to The Dallas Morning News. “Judge Jenkins cannot be precluded from implementing the mitigation strategies he believes are sound, reliable, and backed by scientific evidence.”

On Tuesday, officials from Bexar County and San Antonio also filed a temporary restraining order against the executive order, which a judge approved later that day. 

The moves come in light of recently issued guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommend that individuals mask up indoors in areas with higher rates of COVID-19 transmission, and a continued surge of coronavirus cases in the state. 

Paxton called government officials reinstating mask mandates and the judges who granted their temporary restraining orders against Abbott’s mask ban “activist characters” and “attention-grabbing judges.”

“This isn’t the first time we have dealt with activist characters. It’s deja vu all over again,” Paxton said in a statement. “Attention-grabbing judges and mayors have defied executive orders before, when the pandemic first started, and the courts ruled on our side – the law. I’m confident the outcomes to any suits will side with liberty and individual choice, not mandates and government overreach.”

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