August 04, 2007
Now it's up to Abbott

Yesterday was the deadline for filing briefs with the Attorney General in regards to the Keffer request for a ruling on Speaker Craddick's claim of absolute power to recognize or not a motion to vacate the chair. Quite a few interested parties took him up on the offer.

As the deadline for arguing the case approached Friday, briefs poured into Abbott's office. Abbott has 180 days in which to rule.

Those supporting Keffer included briefs from speaker candidates Reps. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, and Brian McCall, R-Plano. Speaker candidates Reps. Fred Hill, R-Richardson, Delwin Jones, R-Lubbock, and Sylvester Turner and Senfronia Thompson, both D-Houston, did not file briefs.

Five other Republican legislators and the Texas Progressive Alliance, a group of liberal bloggers, also filed briefs in support of Keffer.

Yes, that's my blogging colleagues and me. The brief is here, and an executive summary of its contents is here.

Craddick's ultimate trump card in the legal battle, and an out for Abbott, may be an opinion that then-Attorney General John Hill issued in 1973 when asked a speaker's race question by then-state Rep. Fred Head, D-Troup, a candidate for speaker. Hill answered constitutional and state law questions but refused to give an opinion on House rules.

"Construction of the rules of the Texas House of Representatives is a responsibility, in the first place, of the speaker himself and secondarily, the parliamentarian," Hill wrote.

I'm not so sure that's a trump card for Craddick, as it just means the issue will be argued again when the 81st Lege convenes. It is, however, most definitely an out for Craddick, one that Burka thinks Abbott ought to take. He's got six months to make up his mind. Stay tuned.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 04, 2007 to That's our Lege