Governor Greg Abbott of Texas filed a motion with the Texas Supreme Court on Monday, requesting that a temporary injunction against him be lifted. He also wants the injunction lifted by judicial order. If the request is granted, municipal officials may face penalties for enacting mask laws.
Last Monday, San Antonio and Bexar County won an injunction against the state’s restriction on government mask regulations. They claimed that if schools started without mask mandates, the existing situation would become irreparably worse due to the “unmitigated spread” of COVID-19.
The attorney general’s office filed a motion to stay the injunction on Monday, arguing that the irreparable harm was being caused by the growing list of local orders defying the governor’s order banning mask mandates, “as it is enabling numerous municipalities to issue different responses to the disaster,” according to the filing. “Moreover, the Governor lacks an adequate remedy in the form of an appeal. Localities will continue to break GA-38 as long as the temporary injunction is in place.”
Using the Texas Disaster Act, the governor’s order “GA-38” suspends some elements of health and human service law. The injunction prevents the imposition of sanctions against local government officials, such as a $1,000 fee for noncompliance.
As per the Texas Department of State Health Services, there were 13,346 confirmed COVID-19 patients in Texas hospitals on Monday. That’s almost as much as the peak amount of the worst COVID rise so far. Intensive care unit beds are in short supply at many Texas hospitals.
The state requested a Supreme Court order, claiming that the 4th court of appeals had “abused” its discretion by maintaining the injunction even though it had been appealed. They stated that this is especially relevant now because many local governments are “flouting” the governor’s directive.
In an interview with TPR last week, San Antonio City Attorney Andy Segovia stated the Texas Disaster Act allows the governor to coordinate disaster response, not to prevent local governments from doing so in the event of state abdication.
Two previous stays against Temporary Restraining Orders given to Bexar and Dallas counties over mask laws were granted by the Texas Supreme Court. It dismissed the state’s request for stays in three other cases filed in Travis County district court, claiming the state hadn’t filed correctly.