Texas Governor Greg Abbott has asked an appeals court to reject a masking requirement imposed by a country judge and promised more lawsuits against officials who rebel against his ban on mask mandates.
Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that they had filed a petition asking the 5th Court of Appeals to strike down an order by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who instructed businesses, public schools, child daycare centers and government offices to require indoor mask-wearing. The governor banned Texas officials from imposing any form of a mask mandate in May, under the threat of a fine of up to $1,000.
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He said wearing a mask should be a personal choice and pointed to vaccines and other health practices as the best way to defeat Covid-19. “Any school district, public university, or local government official that decides to defy [the ban] – which prohibits gov’t entities from mandating masks – will be taken to court,” Abbott wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “The path forward relies on personal responsibility, not government mandates.”
Abbott and Paxton argued that the mandate violated the governor’s executive order that banned local governments from implementing mask regulations. “Attention-grabbing judges and mayors have defied executive orders before, when the pandemic first started, and the courts ruled on our side – the law,” Paxton said in a statement. “I’m confident the outcomes to any suits will side with liberty and individual choice, not mandates and government overreach.”
Dallas, which serves more than 150,000 students, is not the only Texas city that has said it will enforce mask mandates as children head back into the classroom this fall. The Houston Independent School District – Texas’ largest district with over 200,000 students – said it will create a mask mandate pending board approval Thursday.