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Posts under ‘Legal matters’

Paxton’s contempt saga officially ends

I’m sure he’s so relieved. A federal judge has canceled next week’s contempt-of-court hearing for Attorney General Ken Paxton, saying it is not needed because Texas government agencies have begun acknowledging same-sex marriages. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia had ordered Paxton and a state health official to appear in his San Antonio courtroom last month […]

Churches and recall elections

This ought to be interesting. Are Texas churches prohibited from campaigning to recall politicians? The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals [weighed] that question Thursday in a case set to clarify if and how a church as a corporate entity can influence the political process of ousting a sitting elected official. A San Antonio congregation, […]

Abortion providers go to SCOTUS

I sure hope this works out. Texas abortion providers on Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up their legal challenge to two provisions of the state’s strict abortion law. After losing at the appellate level, a coalition of abortion providers is asking the high court for a reprieve from restrictions passed by the […]

Houston pleads its case to the Supreme Court

We’ll see how they did. “The point of all this is to protect the public and the environment, to have clean air, and the TCEQ, for the Texas Clean Air Act, envisions that it be vigorously enforced,” [Houston attorney Robert] Higgason said. “This is what the statute makes reference to — cities being allowed to […]

Once again to the Supreme Court for school finance

Like deja vu all over again, and again and again and… The Texas Supreme Court is again faced with determining whether the state’s method of funding public schools is unconstitutional, the latest in a series of school finance challenges stretching back more than 30 years. In oral arguments Tuesday, lawyers representing the state argued that […]

Houston’s environmental protection ordinances go to the Supreme Court

Where, sadly, they’ll likely get killed. State environmental regulators don’t adequately enforce air pollution laws, the city of Houston believes, and on Wednesday it will ask the state’s highest civil court to let it keep trying to do the job itself. The state Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case challenging a pair of […]

Supreme Court to hear school finance appeal

We near the end of the road. This road, anyway. Shut out by lawmakers in their efforts to overhaul the state’s troubled education funding system, more than 600 school districts are now pinning their hopes for relief on the Texas Supreme Court. The high court will hear arguments on the volatile issue of school finance […]

State asks for full Fifth Circuit review of voter ID ruling

As you’d expect them to do. Continuing to protect a voter identification law that courts say discriminates against Hispanics and African Americans, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has asked a full federal appeals court to hear his arguments about why the state’s requirements at the polls do not violate the Voting Rights Act. In a […]

Does your JP still do marriages?

Some do and some don’t. Last Wednesday, Judge Dale Gorczynski, a justice of the peace in Harris County, heard 19 eviction cases, sent 147 traffic and misdemeanor cases to trial and presided over five weddings: Three for same-sex couples and two for heterosexual couples. It was the first time gay couples outnumbered straight ones in […]

Divorce granted to same sex couple in Tarrant County

At some point, stories like this will cease to be news. It took two Tarrant County women nearly two years to legally end their failed marriage because of the tangle of state and federal law. But on Thursday, Brooke Powell and Cori Jo Long were finally divorced after a five-minute hearing before state District Judge […]

Paxton asks to be excused from contempt hearing

He promises he’s been a good boy, so can he please come out of time out now? Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office says he shouldn’t face a contempt hearing for failing to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling, and no longer needs judicial supervision to ensure he’s doing so. In an advisory […]

DOJ asks to get voter ID remedy ASAP

I concur. The Obama administration and several civil rights groups are urging a federal appeals court to fast track the process of temporarily fixing Texas’ voter ID law in time for the upcoming Nov. 3 elections. In court filings Thursday, the Justice Department and civil rights groups asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals […]

State ordered to pay fees in redistricting litigation

They don’t seem to be interested in doing that, however. In a scolding tone, a federal appeals court panel in Washington, D.C., ordered the state of Texas on Tuesday to pay more than $1 million in attorneys’ fees in a case challenging district boundaries drawn by the Republican-led Legislature. First under the direction of then-Texas […]

The cost of defying the law on same sex marriage

Nearly $44K in attorneys’ fees, and it could have been worse. It has been a month since Joe Stapleton and Jim Cato finally got the marriage license Hood County Clerk Katie Lang denied them because of her religious beliefs. It only took a federal lawsuit to get it. Today that suit was settled, and according […]

Meyers voter ID lawsuit to proceed

An update on that other voter ID lawsuit. Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Larry Meyers claims that the state’s voter ID law violates the Texas Constitution, and the court ruled that the case will proceed after rejecting defendants’ arguments that the court lacked jurisdiction. Meyers—who filed the lawsuit as a private citizen, not as […]

State issues new guidelines for birth and death certificates

That was quick. The state has issued new guidelines for filing and changing vital records to recognize same-sex marriage status, as ordered by a federal judge in San Antonio In a court advisory filed late Wednesday, the Texas Attorney General’s Office and the Texas Department of State Health Services said they believe the new guidelines […]

Paxton files amicus brief in HBU contraception lawsuit

Of course he does. Female employees of religious nonprofits should not be given insurance coverage for birth control if their employers object to certain contraceptives on religious grounds, according to a brief filed at the U.S. Supreme Court by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Paxton’s “friend of the court” brief was filed Monday in support […]

Paxton gets a deadline

Better stick to it. In an order late Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia also instructed Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office and the Texas Department of State Health Services to approve all pending applications for death and birth certificates involving married gay couples by that date. The judge is holding both agencies to their […]

Another Voting Rights Act lawsuit filed

Naturally, it originates in Texas. Today, on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) sued the State of Texas, the Williamson County Elections Department, and the city of Round Rock for denying Asian American voters with limited English proficiency the right to […]

Paxton avoids contempt hearing

He accomplished this by folding like a lawn chair on the issue of same-sex death and birth certificates. Wednesday’s contempt of court hearing for Attorney General Ken Paxton and a state health official was canceled Monday after state officials agreed to allow death certificates to acknowledge same-sex marriages, a lawyer involved in the case said. […]

State Health Services department finally amends that death certificate

Good. Complying with a federal court order, Texas has issued an amended death certificate acknowledging a Conroe man as the husband of a same-sex spouse who had died in January. The men had been married in New Mexico in 2014, when Texas still banned gay marriage. Shortly after the change was made Thursday night, state […]

Sandra Bland’s mother sues DPS and Waller County

Can’t say this is a surprise. The mother of Sandra Bland filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the Texas Department of Public Safety trooper and several others she deems responsible for the death of her 28-year-old daughter at the Waller County Jail in mid-July. Geneva Reed-Veal is seeking a jury trial and unspecified monetary damages […]

Fifth Circuit affirms that Texas voter ID law violates Voting Rights Act

Good. Texas’ four-year-old voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act but is not a “poll tax” barred under the U.S. Constitution, a federal appeals court has ruled. The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday ruled that the Texas voter ID law – signed into law in 2011 – has a “discriminatory effect” […]

There’s more to complying with SCOTUS than issuing marriage licenses

Looks like Ken Paxton may get to learn that the hard way. A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Texas must recognize the same-sex marriage of a Conroe resident by naming him as the surviving spouse on his late husband’s death certificate. And U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia also ordered Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and […]

Pastors file a lawsuit over HERO

I have three things to say about this. Organizers of the anti-Houston Equal Rights Ordinance petition have filed suit against Mayor Annise Parker, saying she and unnamed “conspirators” unconstitutionally rejected valid petition signatures and “smothered the Citizen Referendum Petition in the crib.” (Gotta love a lawsuit whose opening salvo includes infanticide imagery!). Filed by four […]

Not everyone wants Texas to sue the EPA again

It won’t mean anything to those that are hell-bent on suing, but it is worth keeping in mind. President Obama is set to unveil the nitty-gritty of his sweeping, state-by-state plan to fight climate change this week — his most determined effort yet to tackle the effects of global warming by reshaping the nation’s power […]

I’m not the only one who thought the state’s response to the birth certificate lawsuit was specious

Actual legal experts didn’t think much of it, either. The state of Texas can’t hide behind sovereign immunity to escape a lawsuit for denying birth certificates to U.S. citizen children of undocumented immigrants, the director of the University of Texas’ Transnational Worker Rights Clinic said Tuesday. That state’s claim of immunity is mere “boilerplate,” said […]

Split decision on cross-state air pollution rule

Not too bad, actually. Texas’ Republican leaders and environmentalists are both claiming victory Tuesday following an appeals court ruling that requires the federal government to ease limits on certain emissions for Texas and a dozen other states. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Tuesday ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to revisit […]

Woodfill is still pursuing his anti-same-sex benefits lawsuit

From the inbox and the febrile mind of Jared Woodfill: Last year Houston Judge Lisa Millard granted a temporary injunction and ordered Houston Mayor Annise Parker and the City of Houston to immediately stop recognizing same-sex ‘marriages’ and stop providing benefits to the same-sex couples married in other states. Judge Millard stated, “This court does […]

State wants birth certificate lawsuit dropped

I don’t know about that. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday asked a federal district judge to dismiss a lawsuit that claims a state agency violated the U.S. Constitution by denying birth certificates to U.S.-citizen children of immigrant parents. Attorneys with Paxton’s office said that the Texas Department of State Health Services, which is […]

Paxton concedes FMLA lawsuit

Excellent. Almost a month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton quietly conceded a case against the federal government over medical leave benefits for certain same-sex couples. Paxton and the attorneys general of Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana and Nebraska filed a voluntary dismissal on Friday with […]

We don’t want to share marriage with those icky gay people

Ed Kilgore detects a new trend. Now that the Christian Right has been reduced to the sputtering defiance of Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal or to the sullen silence of many others, one can hope that conservative acceptance of same-sex marriage will follow as rapidly as it did for the public as a whole. But […]

More on the state’s refusal to issue birth certificates

The Observer follows up. Two legislators have weighed in on the controversy over Texas’ refusal to grant birth certificates to some children of undocumented families. On Wednesday, Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, sent a letter to Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner Kirk Cole, referencing an […]

Lawsuit filed over state refusal to issue birth certificates

I’m sure this won’t be contentious at all. For nearly 150 years, the United States, under the 14th Amendment, has recognized people born here as citizens, regardless of whether their parents were citizens. But Texas has other plans. In the last year, the state has refused to issue birth certificates to children who were born […]