On Wednesday, a group of Dallas bar owners filed a lawsuit against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott over the forced closure of bars across the state.
The suit, filed by the owners of Stirr, Citizen, Tiny Victories, High Fives, and the Whippersnapper, among other establishments, describes Abbott’s decision to shutter bars as as serving “no rational government purpose,” and “constitutes an arbitrary, capricious taking of property without due process and without just compensation.” It also claims that the executive order, which requires all bars that operate under mixed beverage licenses to close, is a violation of the Texas constitution’s equal protection clause.
Abbott shut down bars in Texas on June 26 as new cases of COVID-19 surged across the state. Later, he issued a waiver to existing TABC rules allowing those establishments to sell mixed drinks to-go, but the plaintiffs in that suit say that isn’t enough to prevent them from suffering irreparable monetary harm.
The petition, filed in Dallas’s 68th Civil District Court, notes that bars in hotels and bars inside restaurants, which are still allowed to operate at limited capacity, are not included in Abbott’s shutdown order. “The bar shutdown order does not shut down all bars in the state of Texas,” the suit reads. “Instead, the order picks on a single class of businesses, only those stand-alone businesses licensed as bars.”
Also in the suit, the plaintiffs asked district court judge Martin Hoffman to issue a temporary injunction that would prohibit Abbott from enforcing his executive order, which would theoretically allow those bars to reopen. Hoffman denied that request on Wednesday evening, which means that these — and all bars across Texas — will remain closed for now.
An initial hearing on the suit is set for July 14. Stay tuned for more updates.