UPDATED April 1.
A state court upheld Tuesday a North Texas city’s restrictive “shelter-in-place” ordinance enacted in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The ordinance passed by the McKinney City Council on Friday mirrored an emergency executive order issued by Mayor George Fuller last Wednesday.
“The judge’s role is to follow the law, not become a policymaker,” District Judge Jill Willis said before issuing Tuesday’s ruling.
McKinney resident Derek Baker sued Fuller last week to block portions of Wednesday’s order that conflicted with countywide directives issued by Collin County Judge Chris Hill on Tuesday.
Hill’s order directs all Collin County residents to stay home except for travel related to essential activities. It also defines all businesses as “essential” and encourages them to stay open if they can do so safely.
Baker had argued in court Friday that under Texas law, county emergency orders supersede city orders. Where the two conflict, the county prevails.
Willis was prepared to grant Baker’s request to block Fuller’s order, but she determined Baker’s argument no longer applied once city council passed an ordinance that replaced the mayor’s order.
“Once the mayor’s declaration was superseded by the city’s ordinance, the conflict provision no longer applies,” she said. “Therefore, the plaintiff’s request for a temporary restraining order is denied.”
Baker told Texas Scorecard he doesn’t plan to pursue a challenge to the city’s ordinance on constitutional grounds cited in his original complaint, but said Mayor Fuller has agreed to work with him on a less restrictive order that puts more people back to work.
Baker posted a public statement on Facebook Tuesday night following the ruling.
My statement regarding the lawsuit against the City of McKinney. Feel free to share.
Posted by Derek Vaughn Baker on Tuesday, March 31, 2020
McKinney officials did revise the ordinance to exclude some prohibitions on religious gatherings that were part of Fuller’s original order after a conservative public interest law firm warned the restrictions violated state law and the First Amendment.