Local NewsTexas Attorney General Sues City of Denton Over Mask Mandate

The lawsuit comes after the Office of the Attorney General sent the city a letter demanding they remove their mask mandate.
February 23, 2022
The State of Texas is taking the City of Denton to court over its mask mandate policy in violation of Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order.

“No one is above the law. No one,” Attorney General Paxton said after announcing the lawsuit. “This sheepish attempt at defiance will be handled swiftly. The only ones who suffer in this repeated political theater are the great people of Texas. They deserve better.”

The state requests a court restraining order against Denton’s own city order setting in place the mandate.

Executive order GA-38, issued on July 29, 2021, prohibits such policies, stating, “[N]o person may be required by any jurisdiction to wear or to mandate the wearing of a face covering.”

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) keeps a running tally of localities not in compliance with the order which was last updated in October 2021. According to that list, the suit against Denton is the tenth to be filed and 38 political subdivisions are in violation.

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The courts have batted this order back and forth for months. The Texas Supreme Court issued a stay on Bexar County’s mask mandate back in August, but the case has yet to be fully decided.

Back in January, the state’s Third District Court of Appeals sided with Harris County against the governor, allowing its mask mandate to remain in effect.

The OAG suit appears to be a countermeasure against the city’s own suit it filed in response to the state’s letter demanding recission of the mandate. “This lawsuit seeks to preserve Denton’s workplace masking to protect Denton’s employees and the public’s access to services — especially for those with compromised immune systems or who care for vulnerable family members,” the city’s release stated, announcing their lawsuit.

For its case, the OAG points directly to the governor’s executive order and its preemption of the local one.

“The point is simple,” it states, “Governor Abbott’s emergency orders carry the force and effect of law. His emergency orders, which are issued using statewide powers and which have a statewide legal effect, are effectively ‘state laws.’”

Throughout the pandemic, laws have been effectively whisked out of thin air by executive branches across the nation as they tried to respond to the pandemic. In Texas and throughout the country, orders from the various levels of government have often been in conflict leading to a Russian nesting doll-like condition of competing claims of emergency authority.

The case was filed in a Denton County district court.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.

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