Chaining Down the Tyrant in the Texas Governor’s Mansion

by | Dec 14, 2022


Texas Governor Greg Abbott went into tyrant mode in 2020 on the excuse of a coronavirus “emergency.” He unilaterally imposed a plethora of mandates and new government programs. Included among Abbott’s actions that year were statewide forced closures of businesses, schools, and other places beginning in March, as well as mandated mask wearing beginning in July.

Abbott’s coronavirus crackdown measures were met with sharp criticism from many Texans. Included among them were some Republican members of the state legislature. Notably, in September of 2020, state Republican Party executive committee members, having had enough of the governor’s power overreach, took the heroic and unusual action in September of 2020 of publicly rebuking Abbott, a fellow Republican, in a resolution approved by a 54 to 4 vote. That resolution called on Abbott “to immediately rescind all COVID-related mandates, closures, and restrictions and to open Texas NOW.” Nonetheless, Abbott continued his coronavirus crackdown.

Abbott has since rescinded much of the unilaterally ordered mandates and programs of his coronavirus crackdown. Abbott even feigned heroism for freedom in March of 2021 when repealing draconian mandates he himself had imposed for many months on people in the state. But, Abbott never apologized for any of these measures or the freedom and prosperity that they trampled; instead he suggests his actions had all been appropriate given the circumstances.

What to do with the unrepentant Abbott who seems just a new crisis of the day away from unilaterally springing on Texans another slew of mandates and programs at the cost of violating their freedom, health, and wealth? To deal with Abbott, as well as any successor in the Texas Governor’s Mansion who may have similar tyrannical proclivities, legal chains must be placed on executive power to protect against that power again being similarly abused.

Last week, Republican Texas state Representative Brian Harrison introduced legislation that promises to restrain Abbott and future Texas governors from unilaterally and tyrannically exercising expansive power during a future “emergency” situation as Abbott did during the coronavirus scare. Whether or not the bill is the perfect solution, it does suggest the sort of steps that must be taken to address the problem. In a Texas Scorecard article last week, Brandon Waltens briefly described key provisions of Harrison’s Liberty Protections in Emergencies Act (HB 911) as follows:

The bill would require emergency orders to be narrowly tailored and subject to expedited judicial review. It would also sunset orders after 30 days if the Legislature does not give their approval, and prevent the governor from reissuing expired or rejected orders.

Waltens also noted in his article an additional fact that suggests chains should be put on Abbott. Waltens wrote that Texas is one of just 11 states still in a “COVID state of emergency” due to Abbott having just last month renewed that order for the state.

Of course, the coronavirus scare revealed tyrants in government across America, not just Abbott in the Texas Governor’s Mansion. It is thus important that every state legislature, local elected body, and the United States Congress consider and, as needed, approve legislation to protect against the next crisis of the day being used by tyrants at any level of government to exercises destructive, expansive, unchecked powers.


  • Adam Dick

    Adam worked from 2003 through 2013 as a legislative aide for Rep. Ron Paul. Previously, he was a member of the Wisconsin State Board of Elections, a co-manager of Ed Thompson's 2002 Wisconsin governor campaign, and a lawyer in New York and Connecticut.

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