This effing guy, I swear.
Houston conservative activist Steve Hotze on Monday filed a petition with the Texas Supreme Court seeking an emergency ruling on Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s mask order, which took effect this morning.
Hotze originally filed the lawsuit in state court last week, but District Judge Steven Kirkland on Friday denied his request for a temporary restraining order, allowing Hidalgo’s mandate to take effect Monday, as planned.
Hotze’s new filing echoes the argument he made to Kirkland: that the Texas Constitution and local government code do not give Hidalgo authority to require people to cover their faces in public.
During a Friday hearing in Kirkland’s court, Assistant County Attorney Seth Hopkins argued that Hotze did not have standing to challenge the order because he had no “actual imminent fear of prosecution.”
“The order itself tells the law enforcement, use broad discretion,” Hopkins said, according to a court transcript. “And the plaintiff concedes he’s not going to be prosecuted.”
Hotze attorney Jared Woodfill responded, “So, I guess my question is, if they don’t plan to enforce it, then why is the language even there? Why wouldn’t it just continue to be voluntary…?” He also clarified Monday that Hotze does not “concede he’s not going to be prosecuted” under the order.
Hopkins said the order allows officers to impose a fine if there is an “extreme case, but I think in the examples we have, we don’t have a case like that right now.”
See here for the background. We now have the Abbott reopening order, which overrules any local order that allows for a fine or other punishment for non-mask-wearing. I would think, in my non-lawyerly way, that Harris County will add that to its argument that Hotze has no standing. The Supreme Court has asked for a response from the county by this Friday, so we’ll see.