Federal judge blocks Abbott’s ban on school mask mandates

Excellent news.

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order prohibiting mask mandates in schools violates the Americans with Disabilities Act — freeing local officials to again create their own rules.

The order comes after a monthslong legal dispute between parents, a disability rights organization and Texas officials over whether the state was violating the 1990 law, known as the ADA, by not allowing school districts to require masks. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel barred Attorney General Ken Paxton from enforcing Abbott’s order.

“The spread of COVID-19 poses an even greater risk for children with special health needs,” Yeakel said. “Children with certain underlying conditions who contract COVID-19 are more likely to experience severe acute biological effects and to require admission to a hospital and the hospital’s intensive-care unit.”

The judge said the governor’s order impedes children with disabilities from the benefits of public schools’ programs, services and activities to which they are entitled.

The advocacy group, Disability Rights Texas, filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of several Texan families in late August against Abbott, Paxton and Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath. It states that the governor’s order and the TEA’s enforcement of it deny children with disabilities access to public education as they are at high risk of illness and death from the virus.

Kym Davis Rogers, litigation attorney with Disability Rights Texas, said in a statement that the court found that Texas is not above federal law and state officials cannot prevent school districts from providing accommodations to students who are especially vulnerable to the risks of COVID-19.

“No student should be forced to make the choice of forfeiting their education or risking their health, and now they won’t have to,” Rogers said.

Rogers said she doesn’t rule out the state appealing the decision in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals because the state has done so before, most recently with its new law that bans abortions after as early as six weeks.


In court documents, Ryan Kercher, the attorney representing the state, argued that neither the attorney general nor the state education agency were enforcing the executive order so they couldn’t be sued.

But Disability Rights Texas attorneys said the three were enforcing the order and provided the court with a letter that the TEA sent to the attorney general’s office. In it, the education agency listed school districts that appeared to be operating in violation of the governor’s order. The plaintiffs also noted how Paxton sued several school districts over requiring masks and sent “threatening” letters to districts telling them that they were violating the order.

This isn’t the first time state attorneys argued that Paxton and Abbott didn’t actually enforce the law. In an August lawsuit against the state over the mask order, Paxton made the same argument and indicated that it was up to local county prosecutors to enforce the order.

See here, here, and here for the background, and here for a copy of Judge Yeakel’s ruling. As the story notes, the US Department of Education is also doing an investigation into Texas’ mask mandate ban; it’s not clear to me what effect this ruling, if it stands, could have on that. Also as the story notes, Paxton had filed multiple lawsuits against school districts that had mask mandates, getting most if not all of them to stop. We’ll see what happens next with that.

I do expect the state to appeal to the Fifth Circuit, and why wouldn’t they? The Fifth Circuit gives them everything they ask for pretty much all of the time, whatever the facts or merits of the case in question. This is still a significant ruling, and we should always take the opportunity to revel in any defeat suffered by Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton. May this be the start of a very long losing streak. The DMN and the Chron have more.

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12 Responses to Federal judge blocks Abbott’s ban on school mask mandates

  1. SocraticGadfly says:

    What I don’t understand, outside of Texas, is why no Florida parents of similar kids filed similar suit against DeSatan, just like this one against Strangeabbott. The school districts themselves sued in state court and won, but lost on appeal.

    So, yeah, as I said here yeserday, we’ll be waiting for the Fifth on this, like on the vax mandate.

    (We’ll also be waiting for Josh Hochman to utter some new stupidity.)

  2. Jason Hochman says:

    Oh wow, another personal attack, because you don’t like The Science.

    If you would take the time to look at the CDC Website, and view the map of community transmission in the US, most of the country is in high transmission. The few parts of the continental US in substantial, moderate, or low are mostly in Florida, Texas, Georgia. The islands (Puerto Rico and Hawaii) are also in substantial or moderate, but since they are islands, one can understand why they are not high.

    This is because Abbott and DeSantis are the best governors, and they understand Science, and numbers, and have done the best job to keep people safe.

    If you don’t like these facts, go to the CDC and rage at their map. While you’re at it, ask the Biden junta, why, if they care so much about getting everyone vaccinated, are they letting all kinds of people pour over the southern border? And then sticking them in Texas and Florida, and, in spite of that, those are the states that have things under better control.

    I know, that’s drivel. But, it is the Facts.

  3. C.L. says:

    I think what I drank just came out my nose.

  4. Jason Hochman says:

    It’s too early in the day to be drinking.

  5. C.L. says:

    Apparently it’s not, Dr. Hochman.

  6. Jason Hochman says:

    Fly, DeSantis has done an OK job, look at the CDC map, and see which states are currently in “high” and which states are substantial or moderate spread.

    Just the facts, not the opinion piece you linked.

    More facts are that Florida has less deaths per 100K than NY, NJ, LA. Florida and Texas are both in the middle of the pack, Texas actually has less deaths per 100K than PA, IN, and MA (as well as of course NY and NJ). This is in spite of the fact that TX and FL have a lot of overweight people who are at high risk, plus in FL an older population. Plus, the onslaught at the border has been affecting those states. And they have still managed better.

    This is why voter suppression is necessary. There are many people who see opinion pieces and think that it is fact. Then they vote. They voted based on the Big Lie, that COVID was the deadliest plague ever, and that it was Trump’s fault. Now we see that Biden has killed more people than Trump. Voter suppression is critical to prevent the brainwashed from voting. thanks for illustrating that point perfectly.

  7. SocraticGadfly says:

    Major Hochstetterman (I see what I did, Hogan, but I know nooooTHING!) just jumped 10 sharks calling for vote suppression.

    Hey Hochsttetter (your name here from me) if you’re serious, let’s start with denying COVID-denialists and obstructionists the right to vote.

    That includes the people you brainwash.

    Oh, as for tracking info?

    I keep Worldometers permanently up.

    So, stop the condescending lectures, too, Hochstetter, or I’ll report you to Gen. Burkhalter.

  8. C.L. says:

    Dr. Hochman, if/when COVID comes up for a vote, for election (re-election ?), I don’t plan on casting my ballot for the affirmative.

    Hope that helps your cause.

  9. Jason Hochman says:

    Gadfly, I don’t understand all of the references that you gave, but I am not brainwashing anyone, I am referring you to the data, and to the information that the CDC itself is putting out, such as:

    “Today, some of those data were published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), demonstrating that Delta infection resulted in similarly high SARS-CoV-2 viral loads in vaccinated and unvaccinated people. High viral loads suggest an increased risk of transmission and raised concern that, unlike with other variants, vaccinated people infected with Delta can transmit the virus. This finding is concerning and was a pivotal discovery leading to CDC’s updated mask recommendation. The masking recommendation was updated to ensure the vaccinated public would not unknowingly transmit virus to others, including their unvaccinated or immunocompromised loved ones.”

    The CDC itself is telling you that all of this vaccination ain’t gonna stop the pandemic. You still need your mask. But then again, the clinical trials show no benefit from cloth masks, and low benefit from surgical masks, about a 10 or 15 percent reduction. Nothing about masks and source control is proven.

    This only ends when we listen to smart governors like DeSantis and Abbott, and when we get the 25th Amendment to put Biden out to pasture. This nonsense can end when we say it ends.

  10. C.L. says:

    Dr. Hochman, were you under the mistaken impression that C-19 vaccinations were going to stop people from being infected or, if infected, were going to stop p-to-p transmission ? ‘Cause, um, that’s not what it does or was designed to do…it was designed to lessen the chances of you dying from it.

    Remind me to call your TMC employer.

  11. Jason Hochman says:

    C.L. that is correct. So this is not a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” Nor is your vaccination “protecting other people.”

    You are wrong, they did tell us at first that vaccines stopped the illness and stopped transmission:

    ““That was the reason that we changed our guidance last Tuesday,” Walensky said. “Our vaccines are working exceptionally well. They continue to work well with delta with regard to severe illness and death. They prevent it.”

    “But what they can’t do anymore is prevent transmission,” she added.”

    That is from Dr. Walensky of the CDC one of your heroes, experts, the folks you want to control everything in our lives.

    Now, I’ve read an article that quotes Dr. Jefferson Jones that says they have no idea how or if or when we can reach herd immunity: “It’s impossible to predict what herd immunity will be in a new pathogen until you reach herd immunity.”

    These rules are beyond absurd. It’s like the FDA saying that we have to give the vaccinations to kids to know if they are safe for kids.

    Of course, they still want everyone to get vaccinated, although they don’t even know if we’ll get to herd immunity. At this point, we can see it will never stop. I am going to put my tinfoil hat back on.

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