Texas High Court Revives Some Mandate Bans at Abbott Urging
(Bloomberg) -- The Texas Supreme Court temporarily reinstated Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates in San Antonio and its surrounding county, after finding a lower court improperly suspended it while the legal challenge plays out.
While Thursday’s order applies only to officials in the San Antonio area, it foreshadows a return to mask-mandate bans at school districts and municipal facilities across Texas, as lawsuits by Abbott and his attorney general work their way up to the state high court.
The two Republican politicians have vowed to sue every entity that flouts the governor’s authority, and officials in some of Texas’s largest cities, counties and school districts have already run to court to overturn Abbott’s order that masks remain voluntary.
The Texas Supreme Court pointed out it hasn’t declared a winner in the underlying power struggle between the governor and defiant local officials.
“This case, and others like it, are not about whether people should wear masks or whether the government should make them do it,” the court said in its two-page ruling in the San Antonio case. “Rather, these cases ask courts to determine which government officials have the legal authority to decide what the government’s position on such questions will be.”
The all-Republican high court granted Abbott’s emergency request Thursday on a legal technicality, just as it rejected his almost identical request a week earlier that applied to school districts statewide and municipal facilities in the Austin and Houston areas.
Both times the governor asked the court to preemptively squelch the growing rebellion among local officials struggling to protect their residents from a resurgence of Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations spurred by the delta variant.
The high court said it will leave the status quo -- in which the governor has the ability to make such decisions -- while the courts examine the merits of the arguments.
The case is In re: Greg Abbott, 21-0720, Supreme Court of Texas
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