Jenkins’ motion against the governor occurs the week after Dallas County Commissioner J.J. Koch (R-District 2) sued the county judge after he kicked Koch out of a commissioners court meeting for declining to don a face covering. Jenkins had directed the bailiff to escort Koch from the room.
Jenkins explained on social media that, in his official capacity, he requested a temporary restraining order against Abbott’s executive action as well as declaratory judgment “seeking to hold portions of GA 38 regarding mask mandates unenforceable.” GA 38 is the executive order Abbott signed in July that disallows most governmental entities and officials from requiring masks.
“The enemy is not each other. The enemy is the virus and we must all do all that we can to protect public health. School districts and government closest to the people should make decisions on how best to keep students and others safe,” Jenkins wrote on Twitter.
The Dallas Morning News reported that Jenkins contended in the lawsuit that Abbott’s executive order is illegal under state law and will cause death, saying “lives are at stake.”
“These injuries are irreparable and there is no adequate remedy at law because nothing a court can do at a later date can change the infections, spread, illness and death that will in all certainty occur at greater numbers,” the lawsuit argues, according to The News.
Jenkins’ warnings are familiar. When Abbott lifted the statewide mask mandate and lifted other restrictions in March, his political opponents foretold mass death. In the weeks that followed, coronavirus hospitalizations continued a downward trajectory.
Mask mandates have been opposed and supported by elected officials on both sides of the aisle. In April, a bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by a medical doctor, chose to repeal the Texas House’s mask mandate.
Since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, Jenkins has taken issue with Abbott’s timeline for reopening and his restrictions on local officials. Jenkins was advocating a statewide lockdown as late as June 2020, several months after the pandemic began.
Abbott’s order does not prohibit individuals from wearing a mask, staying home, or otherwise taking precautions to avoid becoming infected or exposing others to the virus.
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."