Legal Battles in Texas Continue as Dallas County Subjects Residents to Mask Mandate

Posted: Aug 11, 2021 10:15 PM
Legal Battles in Texas Continue as Dallas County Subjects Residents to Mask Mandate

Source: Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool

Dallas County is once more subjecting its residents to a mask mandate, after a Wednesday order from Judge Clay Jenkins, Charles Scudder with The Dallas Morning News reported. That same day, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked an appeals court to reverse the order.

The legal battles have come about and moved quickly. 

On July 29, Gov. Gregg Abbott, a Republican, issued an executive order fining local governments if they mandated masks or required proof of vaccination, as Landon reported.

A district judge issued a temporary restraining order late Tuesday night that restricts enforcement of Abbott's ban on such mandates.

As Scudder reported:

Jenkins’ order is the result of a win in the courts late Tuesday stemming from a suit between Jenkins and Dallas County Commissioner J.J. Koch, who was escorted from a Commissioners Court meeting last week for refusing to wear a mask after it was mandated. Koch sued Jenkins for violating Abbott’s order, who in turn sued the governor.

A Dallas County judge heard arguments from Jenkins’ and Abbott’s attorneys Tuesday before deciding that the governor’s executive order precluding local mask mandates was “not [a] necessary action to combat the pandemic.”

“The citizens of Dallas County have and will continue to be damaged and injured by Governor Abbott’s conduct,” the order reads. “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," Caroline Vakil with The Hill also reported.

Jenkins, a Democrat, talks about "freedom" being important, while then going on to disregard it. He's even warning new, stricter orders could come.

Scudder also reported:

“Your personal freedom is important to me and to you, but your personal freedom doesn’t come to harming your neighbors,” Jenkins said. “I’m hopeful that we will turn the tide somewhat with these orders.”

Jenkins has said masking is necessary to help slow the spread of the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus as cases skyrocket and hospitals quickly run out of beds. The county announced more than 3,000 new cases over three days on Tuesday. UT Southwestern Medical Center predicts the county will reach more than 2,000 daily cases and 1,500-plus hospitalized patients by late August.

Jenkins first issued mask orders in April 2020, about a month after coronavirus cases first started popping up in Dallas County and elsewhere. At that time, orders also included lockdown and occupancy limits. Jenkins said that CDC guidance has changed and does not recommend such drastic action, but that his order could change.

“You may see more orders, you may see changes,” Jenkins said. “It’s a small price to pay to protect our children and public health.”

Paxton and Abbott released a statement on Wednesday, with Paxton calling out "activist characters," including "Attention-grabbing judges and mayors."

Texas is under several other legal battles, as well, which Townhall has also covered. 

The Biden administration, via Attorney General Merrick Garland, sued Abbott and the state over an executive order from the governor seeking to protect Texans from by stopping ground transportation of illegal immigrants who might test positive for the Wuhan coronavirus and which directed any vehicle suspected of such a violation to be stopped and turned back.

Texas Democrats have also sued Gov. Abbott and other Republican officials over threats of arrest after the Democrats fled from the state while the legislature was in session, in violation of Texas law. The Texas Supreme Court ruled this week that law enforcement has the authority to arrest the legislators. 

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