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Texas Governor Abbott Deals Legal Blow As He Fights The Vaccine And Mask Mandate
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In a decision issued Thursday evening, the Texas Supreme Court denied Attorney General Ken Paxton’s request to stay temporary restraining orders blocking the governor’s directives. In a related case, the Texas Fourth Court of Appeals upheld San Antonio and Bexar County’s injunction against Abbott over the school mask mandate.

Texas is embroiled in legal battles over measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

On Thursday, the Texas Supreme Court denied a request by Attorney General Ken Paxton to overturn a Travis County judge’s temporary restraining orders that allow some counties and school districts to impose mask mandates. In its ruling, the court clarified that Paxton had no justification to go straight to the high court rather than appeal the case.

  
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Professor Steven Vladeck of the UT School of Law says that the temporary reprieve may only hold for Austin; now the state can ask the court of appeals in Austin for the same relief, and if they lose, they can appeal to the Supreme Court. The reprieve is nonetheless welcome.

Christian Menefee, the Harris County Attorney, who filed one of the cases that prompted Paxton’s challenge to the high court, described the ruling as “an important decision.”

“Our lawsuit against the Governor will continue, and we will keep giving all we’ve got to ensure local officials and school districts can protect our students and immunocompromised,” Menefee said. “I’m hopeful today’s decision also means the Texas Supreme Court is taking a hard look at whether Governor Abbott is misusing the Disaster Act and needs to be reined in.”

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Menefee said the lawsuit against the governor will continue, and he vowed to protect students and immunocompromise by doing everything he can. As a result of the decision, he hopes the Texas Supreme Court will also examine whether Governor Abbott is using the Disaster Act inappropriately and needs to be reined in.

Meanwhile, the Texas 4th Court of Appeals confirmed a temporary order permitting mask mandates in schools in Bexar County.



Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order banning mandates, which the appeals court has ruled cannot be enforced by the state.

The rulings are a significant setback for Abbott, whose executive order prohibited schools, cities, or counties from mandating vaccines or masks.

A Republican statement at the time stated that personal responsibility must take precedence over government mandates.

Recently, local governments have reacted to the surge of cases. In order to issue mandates, they filed for a temporary restraining order. More than 50 local school districts in Texas now require mandate masks, according to the state Attorney General’s office.

Despite testing positive earlier this week for COVID-19, Abbott continues to fight them.

San Antonio Independent School district was sued by the state Attorney General’s office on Thursday over its mandatory vaccination policy.

Federal Challenges

A federal lawsuit against Abbott’s executive order was also filed this week.

Disability Rights Texas sued Abbott earlier this week, arguing that the ban on mask mandates violates the Americans with Disabilities Act’s protections for people with disabilities. The nonprofit said that the students are especially at risk of COVID-19 because they are under age 18 and cannot be vaccinated.

In a number of states with Republican governors, such as Florida, Arizona, and Tennessee, the mask mandate battle is raging.

In a statement Wednesday, President Biden said his administration will not stand by as governors attempt to prevent schools from implementing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education, has been instructed to take steps to protect students by the Democrats.

“This includes using all of his oversight authorities and legal action if appropriate against governors who are trying to block and intimidate local school officials and educators,” Biden said.

In a letter to Abbott, Cordona stated that the mask mandate ban conflicts with CDC recommendations and may infringe on federal guidelines.



 

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