Greg Abbott

Gov. Abbott Promises to ‘Strike Down' Dallas Co. Mask Mandate

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Wednesday that he will fight to strike down the mask mandate enacted by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton said Jenkin's order violates Executive Order GA-38 and state law.

GA-38 prohibits governmental entities and officials from mandating face coverings. It has the force and effect of state law and supersedes local rules and regulations.

Abbott and Paxton said in a press release "Any school district, public university, or local government official that decides to defy the order will be taken to court."

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On Monday, Jenkins filed a temporary restraining order and declaratory judgment "seeking to hold portions of GA 38 regarding mask mandates unenforceable," he wrote in a post on Twitter.

In her ruling, 116th Civil District Court Judge Tonya Parker wrote, "immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result" if Jenkins cannot mandate mitigation measures against COVID-19.

Jenkin's restraining order came after Dallas ISD said it would require masks in spite of Abbott's executive order on Monday. Some other major Texas school districts, including Fort Worth ISD, followed suit on Tuesday.

Tuesday, Texas exceeded 10,000 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, the highest such number since early February.

"Under Executive Order GA-38, no governmental entity can require or mandate the wearing of masks," said Governor Abbott. "The path forward relies on personal responsibility-not government mandates. The State of Texas will continue to vigorously fight the temporary restraining order to protect the rights and freedoms of all Texans."

"This isn't the first time we have dealt with activist characters. It's deja vu all over again," Attorney General Paxton said. "Attention-grabbing judges and mayors have defied executive orders before, when the pandemic first started, and the courts ruled on our side - the law. I'm confident the outcomes to any suits will side with liberty and individual choice, not mandates and government overreach."

"The enemy is not each other. The enemy is the virus and we must all do all that we can to protect public health," Jenkins said in a statement. "School districts and government closest to the people should make decisions on how best to keep students and others safe."

The temporary restraining order expires Aug. 24.

Abbott and Paxton stated "The Texas Disaster Act clearly states that the Governor has the power to guide the state through emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Any school district, public university, or local government official that decides to defy the order will be taken to court."

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