Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order earlier this year that barred local governments from imposing mask mandates.
In response, several Democratic-led jurisdictions have ignored the restriction or challenged it in court — until the state’s highest court stepped in on Sunday.
“Local mask mandates are illegal”
According to the Washington Examiner, the Texas Supreme Court blocked the imposition of local mask mandates, overruling lower courts that sided with local officials intent on pursuing such mandates.
The court’s decision applied to challenges from Dallas and Bexar counties and served to temporarily block the lower court rulings while the appeals process continues.
Texas Attorney General touted the decision in a statement on Twitter.
“Today, SCOTEX has ordered Dallas Co and Dallas [Independent School Distirct] to follow Exec. Order GA-38,” he wrote. “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.”
For his part, the governor also took to Twitter, writing: “The Texas Supreme Court imposes a temporary halt to lower court decisions that overruled the State ban on mask mandates.”
“Remains in effect”
Echoing his earlier executive order, Abbott noted that the “ban doesn’t prohibit using masks” and any Texan “who wants to wear a mask can do so, including in schools.”
Despite the high court’s decision, the Examiner reported that a number of local officials are expected to ignore it and continue with plans for local mask mandates.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkin issued a statement noting that the court had “narrowly ruled” in a temporary fashion ahead of a forthcoming court hearing, tweeting: “We won’t stop working with parents, doctors, schools, businesses + others to protect you and intend to win that hearing.”
The City of San Antonio released a statement downplaying the impact and applicability of the ruling, revealing that Bexar County’s mask mandate for public K-12 schools and other city facilities “remains in effect.”
While it is true that the Supreme Court’s ruling is only temporary, the apparent disregard for executive and judicial rulings by some local officials should be concerning to Texans across the political spectrum.