In a bombshell ruling Friday, the Texas Supreme Court moved to block local orders prohibiting restaurants in the state from remaining open past a certain time amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Fox News, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) had petitioned the state’s high court to block a curfew out of Austin and the surrounding Travis County.
In a statement ahead of the court’s decision, Attorney General Paxton said the “city and county orders clearly violate the governor’s Executive Order No. 32,” according to local ABC affiliate KVUE. “Local authorities have no authority to override it,” he added.
A win for the GOP
The order Paxton referenced came from Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott (R), who said restaurants could remain open late on New Year’s Eve despite curfews set in a number of localities.
The curfews reportedly stemmed from a surge in coronavirus infections in the area; according to Fox, thousands of patients have tested positive there for COVID-19, the novel coronanvirus disease that has killed more than 351,000 nationwide.
To Texas restaurants.
A formal statement.
“The Governor’s statewide executive order allows food establishments to be open for in-person dining on New Years Eve as authorized by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. They should remain open. Happy New Year!”
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 1, 2021
Saving small businesses
But despite concerns about the coronavirus, the Texas Supreme Court sided with Paxton and Abbott in this case, making it just the latest in a long line of court rulings that have struck down suffocating virus-related lockdowns across the nation.
Indeed, from Michigan to Pennsylvania, the court system is slowly pushing back on policies that have led to millions losing their jobs. Restaurants have been particularly hard-hit by pandemic-prompted restrictions, especially with the winter season making outdoor dining untenable.
If we want these businesses to stay afloat, the courts need to keep taking action to protect against crushing authoritarian measures — even over the objections of Democrats like Austin Mayor Steve Adler.
Dems push back
According to Fox, Adler warned constituents Friday to continue taking precautions to curb the spread of COVID-19 and said the high court’s decision will be reviewed in appeal.
“The Supreme Court didn’t tell us what it thought, but stopped enforcement until the Court of Appeals can look at it further,” he said. “That’ll take time.”
In the meantime, Adler urged Austin residents to “[c]elebrate at home, order out and tip generously. There’s no better way to bring in the new year than in solidarity with our neighbors,” he said, according to Fox 7 in Austin. “I continue to believe each of us has the power to protect our neighbors and save lives right now.”