Last week, Governor Abbott issued a new order requiring all bars — classified as an establishment which makes 51 percent or more of its profits from selling alcohol — to close.
They are permitted to operate to-go and delivery services.
After this revocation of their ability to operate, the Texas Bar and Nightclub Alliance (TBNA) has announced its intention to sue the state over the new order.
In a Facebook post. TBNA told its members, “In light of Greg Abbott’s irresponsible and shameful actions this morning that shutter the businesses that provide a livelihood for your families and employees, we support our members in the constitutional right to protest by keeping your businesses open.”
“TBNA has heard from members across the state all day expressing their rage that our businesses have once again unjustly been indefinitely closed without one shred of scientific evidence that bars and nightclubs pose any more of a public health hazard than a restaurant, grocery store, big box retailer, convenience store, health club, hair salon or the many…other business segments that cater to the public throughout the state of Texas,” it further added.
For any of its members who decide to defy the order and receive a fine or other penalties from the state, TBNA said it has legal counsel standing by to represent them. Additionally, TBNA welcomed any of its member businesses to join the suit against the state.
Last week, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission announced 17 bars and restaurants had their alcohol permits revoked for social distancing violations the previous weekend. The TBNA warned its members this could happen to them should they open in defiance of the order and could be fined $1,000 per day.
Texas had been methodically reopening since May, but the increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations over the last few weeks has caused the state and local governments to reinstate regulations.
Despite some claims otherwise, hospitals insist they still remain more than capable of dealing with the influx of new cases.
Rick Green, an attorney who in the past served in the Texas House and ran for State Supreme Court, told The Texan, “The bar owners have a case over equal protection under the law.”
The 14th Amendment reads, “No state shall make or enforce any law which…[denies] to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
“There’s a disparity in how they’re being treated compared with other businesses,” Green stated.
The governor derives his authority from the Texas Disaster Act of 1975, but whether or not he has overstepped that delegation of power is a contested question.
With this new closure, many Texas bars will have a difficult time keeping the lights on. Only a couple of weeks into the first closure, a whopping 20 percent of Texas’ bars and restaurants had closed permanently.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include comments from Rick Green, a constitutional attorney.
Update: The lawsuit has been filed in federal court with the United States Western District Court of Texas. See the filing below.
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Brad Johnson is 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 watching and quoting Monty Python productions.