The recent COVID-19 pandemic related Orders Shutting down businesses and Ordering people to Wear Face Masks are Invalid and Unconstitutional
While COVID-19 is a serious and unprecedented public health challenge, for the record, the Texas Disaster Act Provides No Authority for Governor Abbott or any local official to shut any business or order the wearing of facemasks in pubic.
The Texas Disaster Act, which is Texas Government Code Section 418 authorizes the Governor to declare a state of disaster after which certain enumerated powers related to emergency management become available.
The Texas Disaster Act does not permit the Governor, or any local official, to prescribe what people wear, or order them to stay in their houses or order businesses to close.
The Disaster Act empowers the Governor, and by extension local officials, to respond to disasters but it does not usurp the roles of the Judiciary and Legislature.
For example, the Disaster Act says that the Governor can:
- suspend any regulations regarding the conducting of state business [§ 418.016(a)]
- AND the Governor may use and reallocate State resources that to cope with a disaster [§ 418.017(a)]
- AND the Disaster Act authorizes the Governor “control the movement of people within a specified disaster area by (1) ordering an evacuation (2) authorizing evacuation routes or (3) controlling the persons who enter or leave, or are permitted to live within a disaster area. [§ 418.018]
THAT’S ALL – there is absolutely no authorizing statute that permits the Governor, or any other public official, to order the wearing of face masks, or closing of businesses. Period.
We need to be focused on voluntary common-sense solutions. Viruses, even very bad ones are going to be with us forever. We should ask our government to provide the best data and information, promote best practices and to allocate resources for robust testing. Our elected officials should be fighting for our rights during times of crisis not fighting to curtail them.