AUSTIN, TX — An advocacy group funded by the federal government sued Governor Greg Abbott Sunday night because Abbott has a standing executive order, GA 36, that forbids public school districts in Texas from ordering students to wear masks. The order requires the Texas Education Agency to revise its guidance effective since June 4 that, “[N]o student, teacher, parent, or other staff member or visitor may be required to wear a face covering.”
The lawsuit, filed by the Southern Center for Child Advocacy, requests a temporary restraining order, temporary injunction and a permanent injunction against the governor’s order. The lawsuit argues that the Texas Legislature gives local school districts the authority to “serve the needs of public school students in the community,” and that includes the students’ health and safety.
Furthermore, the emergency authority granted the governor in State law is meant to give him authority to take “proactive steps” to mitigate against the impact of a declared disaster, not advance an “anti-mask political agenda.”
“By usurping the authority of local school districts, in coordination with their public health departments, to require masks, Executive Order: GA 36 creates an arbitrary and capricious impediment to the ability of school districts to respond to this pandemic,” the lawsuit states.
Court watchers believe the lawsuit will be successful. The lawsuit was filed in a Travis County district court. The Texas 3rd Court of Appeals can overrule or affirm the Travis County district court’s decision. Both courts are packed with Democrats. The 3rd Court of Appeals flipped to Democrat control in November 2018 with the candidates riding Francis “Beto” O’Rourke’s coattails.
A volunteer attorney and spokesman for the Southern Center for Child Advocacy told the Texas Tribune that their intention is to allow local school districts make the decision to require masking of students. The Southern Center for Child Advocacy is funded through the U.S. Department of Justice.