Abbott gives on legislative privilege

About time.

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

In an effort to move to trial more quickly, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has quietly dropped his opposition to the Department of Justice’s request to take depositions from state lawmakers in the voter identification case.

In March, Abbott asked a federal court in Washington to shield 12 state lawmakers from giving depositions in the state’s voter identification case against the Justice Department. Citing legislative privilege, Abbott’s office said that the department’s requests to depose lawmakers and subpoena records amounted to “an unwarranted federal intrusion into the operations of the Texas Legislature.”

But now, Abbott has decided to stop trying to prevent the depositions, said Jerry Strickland, a spokesman for Abbott.

“In order to move the case forward without delay, the State agreed to allow depositions to proceed,” Strickland said in a statement.

The Justice Department has asked for depositions from the author of the voter ID measure, Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay; its House sponsor, Rep. Patricia Harless, R-Spring; various legislative staffers; and other lawmakers.


Luis Figueroa, a staff attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is intervening in the case, confirmed that depositions have begun and that lawyers for the civil rights group were on hand for some of them.

Figueroa said the state began to cooperate and stop fighting the depositions after the D.C. court admonished it for slowing the voter ID case and jeopardizing the July 9 trial date.

Abbott has been braying loudly about how it’s everybody else’s fault that this process has dragged on for so long despite the bench-slapping his office got and the fact that his expansive view of what constitutes privileged information was what had been bogging things down this time. The fact that he has finally conceded that these legislators will have to answer some questions doesn’t mean they’ll answer them all – they are still claiming legislative privilege, and those disputes will be settled by the court on a case by case basis. That will likely take even more time, which again is fine by me. The longer this takes, the better. Texas Redistricting has more.

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