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"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

Public Outraged Against Texas Governor Abbott

By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. May 7, 2020

Across the nation, desperate small business owners are defying unconstitutional state shutdown orders and reopening at great risks of retribution by vindictive power hungry officials.

On May 5 the harsh sentence by Dallas Judge Moyé of a Texas mom and business owner created a broad grassroots backlash and attracted national attention. Shelley Luther had reopened her salon to be able to feed her children and those of her employees.

The judge gave her 7 days in jail and a $7000 fine for ignoring a temporary restraining order based on Governor Abbott’s shutdown of the economy. It should be noted that Judge Moyé continues to draw his $158,000 salary during the shutdown.

The problem was created because Texas Governor Greg Abbott unconstitutionally shut down the state with his executive pen which he said carried the “force of law.” Those who failed to comply would be subject to jail, fines, and/or losing business permits.

The governor, who continues to receive his six-figure salary and live in a taxpayer funded mansion, issued a milquetoast press release calling the judge’s action “excessive.”

Then Abbott blamed Ms. Luther for the problem which he had created, “Compliance with executive orders during this pandemic is important to ensure public safety; however, surely there are less restrictive means to achieving that goal than jailing a Texas mother."

She did comply with his executive order and, in doing so, has nearly bankrupted herself and her employees.

The governor then issued notice that he is eliminating jail as punishment for those who ignore his executive orders -- retroactive to April 2 and superseding local orders. This includes the two women who were arrested in Laredo, Texas for offering beauty services at home during the lockdown.

This is too little, too late. It seems the governor is now paying attention to the dire straits in which he has placed Texans only because of the public backlash. Not good for re-election.

On May 7, the Texas Supreme Court granted Luther’s release as they considered a petition for writ of habeas corpus filed by Luther’s attorneys. The court ordered the Dallas County Sheriff to release Luther, without bond, and gave the City of Dallas until Monday to file a response to Luther’s petition.

Around the nation, similar stories about defiance of state shutdown orders are playing out.

In Grants, New Mexico Democrat Mayor Martin Hicks defied the Democrat governor and opened his town of 9000. Hicks said, “I’ve ordered the police to stop any State Police officer who comes into town and tries to shut them down.”

In Maine Paul Zimmerman, owner of the Red Maple Inn, was threatened with loss of his license if he defied lockdown restrictions. Zimmerman reopened. The state so far has not stripped his license.

In North Carolina a man who opened his tattoo parlor, fearing that he would lose his new home and ability to feed his children, was arrested for violating an executive order. He has not received any federal assistance so far and only got approval for insufficient unemployment payment after 13 attempts to sign up.

In Nevada a barber received a warning from her licensing board, including a citation and a $1,000 fine for reopening. She has been denied repeatedly for unemployment insurance because she is self-employed and has not been able to get federal loans through the Paycheck Protection Program.

In New York City Eliot Rabin, owner of Peter Elliot Blue men’s clothing store, reopened in the face of threats by police. He said he will not pay a fine if one is issued. If he is arrested, he will take his case to the Supreme Court with the help of lawyers who will handle his case pro bono.

As the nation reopens, life will not return to normal. Political leaders will not be willing to let go of their stranglehold of millions of terrified people. We will continue to social distance which creates problems for the number of people allowed at work places, churches, and at events. We will continue to wear masks.

Economically it’s going to be a very tough year with around 33 million Americans of working age out of work. The St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank predicts job losses could run as high as 30 percent. Goldman Sachs predicts a second quarter GDP loss of 24 percent. During the Great Depression the highest unemployment rate was 24.9 percent and the largest annual GDP loss was 12.9 percent.

Now even the booming state of Texas is in serious trouble. Out of a population of nearly 29 million, more than 2.1 million are out of work because of the coronavirus – 1 in 10 of working age Texans. March sales tax revenues dropped 10 percent and April is expected to be worse.

There have been 973 virus deaths out of 29 million Texans (0.003%).

Despite the theory that shutting down our nation along with social distancing, and masks would stop the spread of the virus, this has not materialized.

Far more draconian shutdown measures were taken by the Michigan governor than in Texas, yet there have been 4,345 deaths out of nearly 10 million people (0.004%).

South Dakota did not shut down nor issue stay at home orders yet has had only 31 coronavirus deaths out of nearly 900,000 people (0.003%). When asked why she refused to lock down her state, Governor Kristi Noem responded,

“For me personally, I took an oath to uphold our state Constitution. I took an oath when I was in Congress [she served in the House from 2011 to 2019] to uphold the United States Constitution. So I believe in people’s freedoms and liberties and I always balance that with every decision that I make as governor.”

“I get overly concerned with leaders who take too much power in a time of crisis because I think that’s how we directly lose our country someday by leaders overstepping their proper role.”

“I trust my people. I know that if business owners here are given an opportunity to be innovative, they will protect their customers. They will take actions and change business models to make sure their employees are safe and that they can practice social distancing while still serving their customers. I knew I had to give them an opportunity to survive.”

It is a moral crime that business owners have been forced to choose between jail time and fines or letting families go hungry and potentially lose their homes and cars just to accommodate the tyrannical whims of judges such as Jenkins and Moyé.

We Texans wish that our own governor would uphold the Texas Constitution and have more trust in us to be responsible and innovative.

Fast Facts To Share

  • Texas was shut down. Unemployment is 2.1 million (0.07%). COVID-19 death rate is (0.003%).
  • Texas businesses are reopening at only 25% capacity with social distancing that is creating expensive and highly inconvenient challenges for the work place, churches, and schools. Getting appointments will stretch into waits of weeks and months for many.
  • South Dakota was not shut down. Unemployment rate is 29,700 (0.03%). COVID-19 death rate is 0.003%.
  • U.S. population of 330 million with 75,670 deaths. Death rate is 0.002%. Second quarter GDP loss is 24 percent with unemployment currently at about 10% -- 33 million working age -- and predicted to rise to 30%.


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