DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sent a stern warning to Dallas County about “unconstitutional and unlawful restrictions” that he says conflict with the governor’s executive orders.
In a letter, Paxton claims Judge Clay Jenkins’ order “exceeds the county’s lawful authority and that it is likely to confuse residents.” According to Paxton,
As an example, Paxton mentioned the county’s order on places of worship, such as limits on the number of people at religious services. He claims it conflicts with the Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order on these types of places.
“A local order that limits how a house of worship conducts services, or otherwise restricts essential services, conflicts with the governor’s order and is, therefore, unenforceable,” Paxton said.
Paxton also talked about how Dallas County has restricted certain businesses, such as law offices, to reopen even though the governor’s order allows them to.
“As we have explained, the governor’s order prohibits a local order from restricting essential or reopened services. If you try to close an essential business or a reopened business — regardless whether a violation of your order occurs — your action would conflict with Executive Order GA-21 by restricting essential or reopened services and would, therefore, be invalid,” Paxton said.
Paxton also said the executive order “encourages” residents to wear face masks or coverings but does not require them.
“Because local governments cannot enact laws that are inconsistent with State law, any local order that purports to impose a civil or criminal penalty for not wearing a face covering is void and unenforceable,” Paxton said.
To end his letter, Paxton mentioned how there is no longer a statewide stay-at-home order but that Dallas County is still enforcing one. Again, he said the governor’s order “supersedes” local ones.
“We trust the county will act quickly to correct mistakes like these to avoid further confusion and litigation challenging the county’s unconstitutional and unlawful restrictions,” Paxton said.
Paxton sent the same type of letter to Bexar County and the city of San Antonio, along with Travis County and the city of Austin.
Abbott was asked on CBS 11 News at 5 p.m. Tuesday about the letter, and, although he said he hasn’t seen it yet, he said he understood the issues presented by Paxton.
“There’s an attempt to seek alignment between what the state has done and what the counties are doing. Just to make sure we are able to provide clarity for the public so that public understands exactly what the rules are they need to abide by,” Abbott said.
This isn’t the first time the Texas attorney general has called out Dallas County and the city of Dallas itself. Last week, he sent a letter that called for the release of jailed salon owner Shelley Luther after she defied orders by reopening her businesses a little over two weeks ago.
Paxton was joined by other state leaders like Abbott who believed she should not have been given jail time. She was eventually released about two days later after Abbott modified his executive orders and the Supreme Court of Texas ordered her release.