Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a petition aimed at reversing the decision made by a Bexar County judge to reject the state’s request for a temporary injunction that would block a vaccine mandate for staff at the San Antonio Independent School district.
The vaccine mandate is currently on pause, but Paxton is moving full steam ahead now that the court has ruled in favor of the mandate.
In an announcement, Paxton said that the decision is illegal under state law and an affront to individual liberty.
He stated: “Nobody should be bullied, coerced, and certainly not fired because of their COVID-19 vaccination status.”
“The governor’s executive order specifically protects workers from the type of mass firings that San Antonio ISD is seeking, and I will continue to fight in court to defend GA-39 and Texans’ medical freedom,” he added.
A spokesperson for the San Antonio Independent School district said the vaccine mandate will remain suspended for the time being and that employees are not being disciplined over their refusal to get the vaccine. However, that could change soon thanks to the recent decision, so Paxton is taking steps to protect people’s health freedom.
School district vaccine mandate subject of lengthy legal battle
The vaccine mandate has been the subject of a long legal battle that got underway when vaccine and mask mandates were first implemented in the school district on August 16, 2021. At that time, all staff members were informed that they must be vaccinated within two months.
Just three days after that announcement, Paxton sued then-SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez as well as the district as a whole over the mandates on the grounds that they were “deliberately violating state law.” An executive order that was passed that July by Governor Greg Abbott expressly prohibited any entity receiving public funds from mandating vaccines against COVID-19 that had only been granted emergency approval by the federal government. At the time, however, Abbott did acknowledge that he lacked the legal authority to enforce executive orders.
Then, on August 23, the mask mandate lawsuit was dropped as the FDA gave full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. On August 25, Abbott then issued a new executive order that banned government entities from requiring any type of COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of its approval status with the FDA.
In September 2021, Paxton filed a second lawsuit against the school district and sought a temporary restraining order that would bar them from mandating any vaccines on the grounds that it was a violation of state law because it flouted the August executive order. A few weeks later, Judge Angelica Jimenez denied a plea by the school district that Paxton did not have the legal authority to enforce the executive order issued by Governor Abbott.
That ruling was immediately appealed in a move that had the effect of delaying a hearing that the state had requested to halt the vaccine mandate with a temporary restraining order. As a result, the district was allowed to continue requiring staff members to get the vaccine.
In October 2021, Judge Mary Lou Alvarez denied the state’s request for the temporary injunction, which allowed the school district to continue mandating the vaccines. Two weeks after that, Paxton’s office appealed the ruling and requested a temporary block of the mandate while the appeal was pending. Then, the attorney general requested that the state supreme court step in and put a stop to the mandate; it complied in mid-October just one day before the employees’ deadline to get vaccinated.
However, in July, an appellate court upheld the school district’s authority to mandate vaccines for its workers, although the mandate cannot be enforced at the moment due to the October order. If Paxton’s petition is successful, school district workers will no longer be subject to an unlawful vaccine mandate related to a pandemic that President Biden has already declared to be over.
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