Texas – Under the heavy pressure by the public, the Texas Supreme Court decided to temporarily allows school districts to implement mask mandates amid the latest Covid-19 surge in cases.
Abbott tried to appeal the case asking the court to dismiss their decision, but his request was denied by the court asking him to go through the proper channels first.
The Supreme Court for some reason is not in a hurry with the mask mandate ban case.
But experts said the court’s latest ruling is just another speed bump before the court will likely have the ultimate say in a week or two.
“The key date on the calendar for the Supreme Court is the 24th of August,” constitutional law attorney David Coale said.
That is the day Dallas County will present its case to Judge Tonya Parker, arguing that Governor Greg Abbott is exceeding his authority by prohibiting local mask mandates.
Coale said the Dallas County case is similar to one recently heard in Bexar County.
“Once those two hearings have been held, and rulings entered, the court may feel it has the full record it wanted a couple of weeks ago to finally resolve this once and for all,” Coale said.
Though it is a third case, the one in Travis County, getting the most attention right now.
That case argues school districts should have authority to mandate masks.
Attorney General Ken Paxton, on behalf of Gov. Abbott, tried to bring it to the state Supreme Court directly, without going through an appeals court first.
“Supreme Court said, we can do that, but don’t want to, let’s follow regular procedure,” Coale explained.
Coale said while the Texas Supreme Court is made up of nine Republican justices, how they will rule on this issue is complicated.
“You want to defer to executive, executive should be powerful, chosen representative of the people. On the other hand, the governor is notoriously weak in Texas. State constitution has one of the least powerful governor’s offices in the entire country,” Coale said.
Gov. Abbott has drawn his power from the state’s disaster code.
But the disaster code was written to deal with things like hurricanes and tornados.
“Here the disaster never ends, it keeps going and going,” Coale added.
The question for the Supreme Court is when does the disaster go away.
“Now that office has been hypercharged. It’s an unusual change in fundamental structure of the state,” Coale said. “That matters to a lot of folks in Austin. What will they do? Who knows, but they will have to give it some long hard thought.”
And Coale said there is a wildcard in the mix.
There is a federal lawsuit filed by parents of medically fragile children who argue not requiring masks prevents their children from receiving an in-person education.
It is a more complex legal issue, but one that could ultimately undo the Texas Supreme Court’s ruling on masks.