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TDP petitions appeals court to get Paxton to knock it off

Good.

The Texas Democratic Party has asked a court to order state officials not to interfere with a previous court order that opened up mail-in voting in the state.

In their filing Tuesday with the Third Court of Appeals, lawyers accused the state of thrusting voters and local election officials into “legal limbo” by contradicting the earlier ruling.

[…]

Earlier this month, Attorney General Ken Paxton accused local election officials of “misleading the public about their ability to vote by mail.”

“Fear of contracting COVID-19, however, is a normal emotional reaction to the current pandemic and does not amount to an actual disability that qualifies a voter to receive a ballot by mail,” Paxton said in a statement last week. ““My office will continue to defend the integrity of Texas’s election laws.”

In its filing, the Texas Democratic Party said the court needs to step in to ensure counties and voters do not fear applying for and processing vote-by-mail applications.

“The State has taken the extraordinary action of publicly disregarding an order from a coequal branch of the government, asserting that its view of the Texas Election Code, which was rejected by the trial court, is law of the land and threatening those who follow the trial court’s interpretation with prosecution,” lawyers wrote in their motion. “This includes calling into question the validity of the injunction within Travis County and intimidating Travis County voters.”

See here and here for the background, and here for the TDP’s motion. Here I am Not Being A Lawyer again, but it sure seems weird to me that Ken Paxton would simply announce what Judge Sulak’s ruling meant, when the 3rd Court is right there. I get that the AG’s job includes offering non-binding legal opinion about things, but he’s also a party in this lawsuit, so his opinion in this case is hardly disinterested. Anyway, we’ll see what the 3rd Court makes of all this.

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5 Comments

  1. Wolfgang says:

    The appellate case has been transferred to the Fourteenth Court of Appeals in Houston.

  2. Kenneth Fair says:

    From the AG’s website:

    The Texas Constitution and sections 402.042 and 402.043 of the Texas Government Code grant the attorney general authority to issue attorney general opinions. An attorney general opinion is a written interpretation of existing law. Attorney general opinions cannot create new provisions in the law or correct unintended, undesirable effects of the law. Attorney general opinions do not necessarily reflect the attorney general’s personal views, nor does the attorney general in any way “rule” on what the law should say. Furthermore, attorney general opinions cannot resolve factual disputes.

    What Ken Paxton is doing here is not issuing an opinion. He’s just running his mouth, and his statements have no legal effect or authority whatsoever. However, to the extent his statements indicate that his office will defy the court’s injunction, they are actually evidence to support the TDP’s request to enforce the injunction.

  3. […] here and here for the background. You can see the press release relating to this action here, a copy of the […]

  4. […] only applied to Travis County and was stayed pending appeal. The TDP, the plaintiffs in the suit, filed a motion with the Third Court of Appeals opposing Paxton’s actions. I should note that this case has been transferred to the 14th […]

  5. […] here, here, and here for the background. A copy of the court’s order is here, and of the dissent is […]