On Tuesday, lawyers representing Governor Greg Abbott on one side and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins on the other, appeared before Judge Tonya Parker in a legal showdown over Abbott’s ban on mask mandates.
The arguments, which were heard via Zoom by Judge Parker from the 116th Civil District Court in Dallas, revolved around which of the two authorities should make the decision to impose sanitary measures within the county, in order to stop the increasingly worrying infections of COVID-19.
Jenkins presented five witnesses to the hearing, while Abbott presented none.
“Not to listen to the experts strikes me as overly political or ludicrous,” said Dr. Benjamin Greenberg, a neurologist from UT Southwestern Medical Center who spoke in support of research that, he said, proves the effectiveness of masks.
According to WFAA, attorneys for Jenkins also presented documents and social media postings showing that Gov. Abbott, in his previous statewide orders and in his own social media postings, has at times praised the use and effectiveness of face coverings.
After the hearing, Judge Parker ruled against Abbott’s ban on mask mandates arguing that his executive orders were violating Jenkin’s ability to deal with the current health crisis, to which a temporary injunction was issued.
As the county’s chief administrator, Jenkins leads the area’s emergency response to the pandemic, and despite the statewide political implications of the decision, he stated that he didn’t see it as a policy victory against Abbott but a win for public health, as reported by the Dallas Morning News.
“It’s a victory for humans who live in Dallas County against the virus,” said County Judge Clay Jenkins. “I hope we’ll all take off our red hat and our blue hat and put on our human hat and listen to doctors.
While the temporary injunction means that the governor’s mask mandate prohibition cannot be enforced in Dallas County -which allows Jenkins to penalize incompliance- it is highly likely that it will first be appealed and then taken to the Texas Supreme Court, before a final ruling is issued.