The Texas Supreme Court removed a temporary restraining order on a Republican governor’s directive that masks should be worn voluntarily on Aug. 15.
This decision temporarily prevents the lower court in Bexar and Court of Appeals in Dallas County from implementing a mask mandate they introduced two days earlier, according to the Texas Tribune.
The all-GOP Supreme Court agreed with Gov. Greg Abbott’s and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s request for Texans to make their own informed medical decisions.
The governor is “‘commander in chief’ of the state’s response to a disaster” and has the legal authority to issue executive orders with “force and effect of law,” according to the decision’s wording.
Although several cities and counties argued the Delta variant’s rapid spread makes it necessary to force people to cover their noses and mouths, Abbott said there is nothing stopping any Texan from doing so.
“The ban does not prohibit using masks,” he said on Twitter. “Anyone who wants to wear a mask can do so, including in schools.”
BREAKING: The Texas Supreme Court imposes a temporary halt to lower court decisions that overruled the State ban on mask mandates.— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) August 15, 2021
The ban doesn't prohibit using masks. Anyone who wants to wear a mask can do so, including in schools.https://t.co/QeVipZMPWH
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court ruling will give Bexar and Dallas counties an opportunity to argue their cases. A hearing about the Dallas County mask mandate is scheduled for Aug. 24.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins claimed his policy of requiring face masks in public schools, universities, and businesses, would continue despite the Supreme Court ruling.
“The Texas Supreme Court did not strike down my face mask order,” he said on Twitter. “Rather they removed the stay on the GA 38 [governor’s executive order.] Unless I receive a ruling requiring otherwise, I will amend my order to remove the possibility of fines on non-compliant businesses but otherwise leave the order in effect.”
The Tex Supreme Court did not strike down my face mask order. Rather they removed the stay on the GA 38. Unless I receive a ruling requiring otherwise, I will amend my order to remove the possibility of fines on non-compliant businesses but otherwise leave the order in effect.— Clay Jenkins (@JudgeClayJ) August 16, 2021
Jenkins wants no political party to challenge his mask mandate.
“This should never be a political fight,” he said on Twitter. “We are at war on behalf of moms and dads, and kids against a deadly virus. I sure wish the governor would join our side in the battle.”
This should never be a political fight. We're at war on behalf of moms and dads and kids against a deadly virus. I sure wish the Governor would join our side in the battle.— Clay Jenkins (@JudgeClayJ) August 16, 2021
Thank you, Dr Michael Hinojosa @dallasschools for putting students and teachers first!🇺🇸
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff expressed deep disappointment with the Supreme Court’s decision.
“It is not surprising because they are all Republicans and they have got to run in the Republican primary,” he said according to Texas Public Radio. “That does not mean we are not going to keep up the battle to protect the school children of Texas.”
The Delta variant infects younger patients, who mostly unaffected by the deadly disease. This prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend mandatory masks for all elementary and high school students, regardless of vaccination status.
Abbott wants fewer coercive policies and to let Lone Star State residents follow protocols based on their personal references. This includes wearing face masks at school.
However, Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa wants to make it mandatory anyway.
“We are going to continue with our mask mandate to keep students safe, to keep parents safe, to keep families safe, and–most importantly–our teachers who are on the front lines,” he said according to the broadcaster.