Texas Attorney General Admits He Can’t Enforce Greg Abbott’s Mask Mandate Ban

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton admitted that he doesn’t have the authority to enforce Gov. Greg Abbott’s mask mandate ban.

Greg Abbott Mask Mandate Ban Is Unenforceable

Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee said in a statement provided to PoliticusUSA:

The Attorney General is telling one story to the public and another to the courts, creating confusion for the school districts, superintendents, and local officials who are trying to keep students and residents safe as the Delta variant worsens. Texans deserve the truth. If the Governor and the Attorney General cannot enforce the Governor’s mask mandate ban, the folks making tough decisions for our schools and communities have the right to know that. They shouldn’t have to fear retribution for doing the right thing—especially when our state leaders quietly concede that their threats are nothing but bluster.”

In GA-38, the Governor banned school districts and local officials from mandating masks and stated local officials who issue such safety measures would be subject to a “fine up to $1,000.” In response to recent mask mandates imposed by local officials, Attorney General Ken Paxton has stated publicly—and repeatedly—that his office will enforce Governor Abbott’s mask mandate ban. He and Governor Abbott joined together in stating that “any school district, public university, or local government official that decides to defy [the Governor’s mask mandate ban] will be taken to court.”[1] His office has compiled a list of “government entities unlawfully imposing mask mandates” designed to intimidate those entities into compliance.[2] He has sent letters to many on that list, threatening them with enforcement.[3]  He has tweeted several times he intends to sue these entities, most recently saying, “I will defend TX Law & sue every entity that violates it. We will win!”[4]

Despite these public statements, the Attorney General admitted to the courts hearing the lawsuits brought by local officials and school districts that his office does not and cannot enforce GA-38, nor can he seek the $1,000 fine provided in the order. His office has stated plainly that “[n]either Governor Abbott nor Attorney General Paxton will be enforcing GA-38.”[5] Instead, the Attorney General acknowledges that only local district attorneys can enforce GA-38—he has claimed that entities like Harris County, other counties/cities, and certain independent school districts cannot sue the Governor and the Attorney General because they have “alleged no credible threat of prosecution by local district attorneys, who would be the ones enforcing GA-38.”[6]

Texas Republicans can’t stop schools and businesses from imposing mask mandates.

Republican leadership in Texas is lying to the public about their ability to enforce the ban on mask mandates to scare and intimidate schools into not imposing them.

The lies are especially deplorable because they will cause children and adults in the state to get sick and potentially die.

The empty political posturing of the Abbott administration will get more Texans killed, and Republicans need to be held responsible for loved ones who will needlessly die due to Gov. Abbott’s mask mandate ban misinformation.