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.
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.