AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton scored a victory in his battle against vaccine mandates in the state Thursday. The Texas Supreme Court issued a stay preventing San Antonio ISD from implementing a vaccine mandate for staff that was set to take effect Friday.
Thursday’s decision came after San Antonio judges ruled against the state, which sued to stop the mandate.
The Texas Supreme Court did not make a ruling based on the mandate's merits, it said.
“Big win today against rogue ISD’s and forced vaccine mandates!” Paxton tweeted. “This decision should serve as a reminder to all Texas school districts that they should be using their limited funds on educating children and equipping teachers, not defending unlawful vaccine mandates.”
“The School District argues that its vaccine mandate is the status quo because it predates the Governor’s order banning all COVID-19 vaccine mandates by a matter of days. It claims that the last actual, peaceable, non-contested status preceding the pending controversy was the five days between its clarification and GA-39’s issuance,” the court wrote in its opinion. “However, the Governor asserted his authority to control vaccine mandates at the state level in April, months before the School District implemented its mandate. The status quo between the parties is not local control over vaccine mandates.”
The ruling came after Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order banning all state entities from enacting vaccine mandates. That includes private businesses.
At the same time, the Senate State Affairs Committee on Thursday voted 5-1 to advance Senate Bill 51, which would make entities vulnerable to discrimination lawsuits if they were to enact vaccine mandates.
San Antonio ISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez announced the mandate in August. At the time, he said he believed 90% of SAISD staff was already vaccinated.
“We strongly believe that the best path forward as a school district is to require all staff to become vaccinated against COVID-19. And the timing is now. This is a profound moment where we can choose to lead by example,” Martinez wrote in a letter.
“I want to thank the vast majority of you, about 90%, who already are vaccinated. For those of you who are not yet vaccinated against COVID-19, you must be fully vaccinated by Friday, Oct. 15. Please note that it takes five weeks after the administration of the first dose to be considered fully vaccinated," Martinez continued.