Abbott v. Harris County
Abbott v. Harris County (Supreme Court of Texas, June 30, 2023) In Abbott v. Harris County, the Supreme Court of Texas upheld the authority of the Governor to issue an Executive Order prohibiting local jurisdictions from mandating the wearing of masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the full Opinion here.
In July 2021, Texas Governor Abbott issued an Executive Order prohibiting counties, cities, school districts, and public health authorities from requiring any person to wear a face covering, relying on powers granted to the Governor in the Texas Disaster Act. Harris County, Texas, issued a mask mandate based on local powers granted in the Act. The County challenged the Governor’s Order, arguing that the Act did not give the Governor power to preempt local action and that if construed so broadly, the Act violated separation of powers by giving the executive branch the powers of the legislative branch. The Court rejected the County’s argument and upheld the mask mandate prohibition, find that the Disaster Act and the Health and Safety Code supported the Governor’s power to issue the Order and to preempt local action that conflicts with the Order. This issue is not likely to recur because the Texas Legislature recently adopted a statute consistent with the Executive Order, applicable permanently. Read the full Opinion here.