Paxton whines to SCOTUS over Texas’ unconstitutional Voter ID Law

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is at it again.


AG Ken Paxton

If filing 900-thousand lawsuits against President Obama to try and force the federal government to let him mistreat transgender people isn’t enough to keep Paxton busy, now he has filed “a petition for a writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court to reinstate Texas’ voter ID law.”

In other words, the AG is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to please let him and the other Republicans in Texas keep on preventing Texans who might not vote for them from voting at all. (You can see the petition here.)

A press release issued today (Friday, Sept. 23), quotes Paxton as saying, “Safeguarding the integrity of our elections is essential to preserving our democracy. Voter ID laws both prevent fraud and increase the public’s confidence in our elections. Texas enacted a common-sense voter ID law and I am confident that the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately reinstate it.”

The press release also notes that the petition will have no effect on the Nov. 8 elections “for which an interim remedy has been ordered by the courts.”

The folks over at the Lone Star Project — an admittedly partisan organization that has little fondness for any Republican — don’t think too highly of Paxton’s petition. Lone Star Project Director Matt Angle criticized Paxton and Gov, Greg Abbot for having thrown “another bale of taxpayer money in the dumpster and set it on fire” with this latest effort.

Angle added, “It’s unlikely that the Supreme Court will even take up Paxton and Abbott’s appeal. Today’s announcement is nothing more than a political move designed to provide cover for Texas Republicans’ utter failure to defend their discriminatory voter ID law. The voter ID appeal is irresponsible, a waste of taxpayer money and yet another example of Paxton and Abbott putting politics ahead of common sense and fiscal responsibility.”

Rebecca L. Robertson, legal and policy director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas, issued a statement reiterating that the petition will have not effect on the Nov. 8 election. “But,” she added, “with Texas’ already abysmally low voter turnout, the real question is why Attorney General Paxton would waste upwards of 3.5 million taxpayer dollars (and counting) defending a law that disenfranchises more than 600,000 eligible voters. Instead of suppressing the vote, we ought to do everything in our power to ensure that every qualified voter participates.”

—  Tammye Nash

New website offers voter registration, how-to info


Gov. Greg Abbott

Claiming that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton continue to defy court orders instructing them to get accurate information on how to register and how to vote, in the wake of a July decision by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals striking down the state’s strict voter ID law, Progress Texas officials announced today the organization has launched a new website “to combat the misinformation for Texas Republicans and to help ensure every Texan knows their voting rights — and how easy it is to exercise that right … .”

Following the 5th Circuit’s ruling and after being instructed to inform voters how easy the voting process will be this year, Texas officials negotiated new requirements in which voters would be able to use several alternative forms of identification if they do not possess one of the seven forms of ID required by Texas law and “cannot reasonably obtain it.” Voters would also have to sign a declaration to that effect.

But, as Houston Public Media reports, state officials changed the wording in their new “educational campaign” to “cannot obtain” and “have not obtained” the ID. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos agreed with the U.S. Justice Department that the change in language is misleading, and is likely to discourage minority voters from going to the polls.

Texas state officials now have less than five weeks to revamp its voter education campaign before the start of early voting.

Houston Public Media also notes that Judge Ramos is considering whether statements by Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart, who said he would investigate everyone who signs such a declaration to make sure they aren’t lying, might be considered voter intimidation.

Ed Espinoza, executive director of Progress Texas, said his organization had created the non-partisan website “to help every Texan learn how easy it is to vote. Republicans refuse to accurately inform other Texans of their voting rights, so we’re doing it for them.

“It is scandalous,” Espinoza continued, “that the Republicans in charge keep trying to confuse voters and make this basic right seem difficult to exercise.”

Progress Texas also posted the video below to explain the content of the new website.

—  Tammye Nash

A brief lesson on sodomy (from your friendly local atheist)

sodomIn light of our governor’s statements about closing Texas to refugees, I think a brief Bible lesson is in order.

Everyone knows the story of Sodom: God became so disgusted by the behavior of the residents of Sodom, he destroyed it. True (or as true as the story goes).

And the behavior he was punishing was homosexuality.

Not true.

The real biblical story of Sodom is this: Strangers came to Sodom and Lot, a man there, took them in — opened his doors to these foreigners in need. His male neighbors objected. They knocked on Lot’s door. “Give us the strangers so that we might know them,” they demanded. (That’s the “homosexuality” thread of the story — by “know them,” the neighbors meant know them carnally: to rape the strangers.) Lot refused, going so far as to offer his own virgin daughters in place of the strangers. Steadfastly he refused to betray the strangers. But the neighbors would have none of it and broke down the door.

That’s the reason God destroyed Sodom: Not for sexual intercourse between men, but because the men lacked humanitarian openness, neighborliness, friendship. The lesson of Sodom in the Bible is that man is compelled by God to welcome his fellow man, even the stranger. In the New Testament, Jesus preached much the same thing, even going so far as to say if someone strikes your right cheek, offer him your left. Judeo-Christian principles compel the faithful to accept strangers, to treat them as their own, even if it causes them pain. That is the nature of humanity.

Why is it that self-defined “fundamentalists” only believe the language in the Bible when they read it from a place of hate?

Gov. Abbott wants to close Texas to Syrian refugees. Gov. Abbott, you are a sodomite. I mean, clearly, undeniably, indefensibly. Let me repeat: By definition, our governor is a sodomite. How dare he. How dare everyone who feels that way.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Operation Jade Helm begins and the crazies … I mean our governor … is on alert

WalMart-250x169Happy first day of Operation Jade Helm, the military operation in which Texas will be taken over by the United States. According to sources, maps in the White House already show Texas as part of the United States.

The crazies are out all over the country this week. But who can blame them? I mean, gay marriage.

In South Carolina, April Lee Yates, 51, started a disturbance in a restaurant and was asked to pay her bill and leave. She said Jesus would pay the bill for her. Jesus never showed up. The woman went to jail.

A Tennessee woman was arrested at a gas station for printing her own money, because she read on the Internet Obama made it legal. Pamela Downs, 45, printed the $5 bill on her home printer and glued the top and bottom together. Police found a $100 bill in her purse and another $30,000 in her apartment.

Donald Trump had to remove a tweet from his Twitter feed because it showed him with soldiers. Upon closer inspection, those soldiers were in Nazi SS uniforms.

In Bastrop, “citizen volunteers” are on patrol, wary of Operation Jade Helm 15. Bastrop County is the county east of Travis County. Obviously, Bastrop is a good staging area to take over Texas, because from Bastrop, U.S. troops can easily overtake Austin.

Oh, wait, no they can’t. None of Austin’s highways are complete and the city is in a constant state of gridlock.

So far, no reports yet of Texans being placed in Walmarts that have been converted to FEMA camps, but Texas Gov. Greg Abbott promised daily briefings on Jade Helm through the summer.

—  David Taffet

Texas Supreme Court rules against state in same sex divorce case; Abbott “disappointed”

Angelique Naylor

Angelique Naylor

In a 5-3 decision released this morning (Friday, June 19) the Texas Supreme Court agreed with an appeals court the state had no vested interest in a case affecting an Austin lesbian couple seeking divorce.

Angelique Naylor and Sabina Daly wed in 2004. Naylor, who had a child and ran a business with Daly, filed for divorce in Travis County in 2010. The couple had already settled many issues out of court. But to address remaining legal issues, they sought an appeals court judgment addressing various under their divorce.

However Gov. Greg Abbott, then state attorney general, argued because Texas not acknowledge same-sex marriages, the divorce was therefore nullified. Despite the last ditch efforts, the court declined to acknowledge the state’s appeal.

Abbott, in a statement called the ruling disappointing and even a mistake.

“The Court mistakenly relied on a technicality to allow this divorce to proceed. Importantly, the Court did not address the Texas Constitution’s definition of marriage,” he said. “The Texas Constitution continues to stand as the governing law for marriage in the State of Texas. The State and all political subdivisions in Texas remain prohibited by the Texas Constitution from giving effect to a same-sex marriage or any document recognizing one—including the divorce decree in this case.”

The ruling has no impact on the state’s same-sex marriage ban, which was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge. That decision was stayed and that case is awaiting an opinion before the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

—  James Russell

Abbott signs Pastor Protection Act, reasserting rights that have been reasserted

Abbott.GregGovernor Greg Abbott today signed SB 2065, otherwise known as “the Pastor Protection Act” protecting clergy members from performing marriage ceremonies that violate sincerely held religious beliefs. The bill, by Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls and Rep. Scott Sanford, R-McKinney, was filed before an anticipated Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality late this month.

Under the First Amendment clergy members are already protected from performing marriages they may oppose — including same-sex marriages.

Abbott hosted the signing ceremony at the Texas Governor’s Mansion and was joined by members of the legislature who were instrumental in the passage of this legislation, as well as members from the clergy across Texas.

“Freedom of religion is the most sacred of our rights and our freedom to worship is secured by the Constitution,” Abbott said in a statement. “Religious leaders in the State of Texas must be absolutely secure in the knowledge that religious freedom is beyond the reach of government or coercion by the courts. Today I am proud to sign into law SB 2065 — the Pastor Protection Act — to ensure that clergy in Texas cannot be forced to violate their religious beliefs.”

Despite the record-breaking number of bills targeting the LGBT community filed this session, only SB 2065 received a floor vote. Initially Equality Texas and others initially opposed the bill over concerns that clergy members who also serve in government roles could deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. However they dropped their opposition after Rep. Sanford clarified it only applies only to clergy in that official capacity.

Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, called the law necessary.

“With today’s signing of SB 2065, Texas took a small but important step to further protect the religious freedom of clergy in the face of increasing hostility toward people of faith in all walks of life,” he said in a statement.

But to Paxton and others, the bill is not enough. Recently some social conservative leaders called for a special session to address same-sex marriage. Abbott indicated he would not call any special session.

“We now have much more work to do to ensure that all Texans can practice their faith and, among other things, recognize traditional marriage without being punished, harassed or discriminated against for their beliefs,” Paxton said, taking a swipe at the governor.

“Whatever the U.S. Supreme Court decides, the people of Texas and its leadership must not sit idly by in the face of hostility and harassment at the hands of a small but loud chorus of activists and the few corporate cronies cowed by them who denounce Texans simply for standing in defense of traditional marriage,” he added.

If not a special session on marriage, then perhaps Paxton is instead mulling another avenue: the 2018 GOP primary.

—  James Russell

Cathie cried: Abbott will not convene special session on marriage


Clearly Texas Eagle Forum’s Cathie Adams needs a good gay hair dresser.

Put the flaming chariots back in the barn: Gov. Greg Abbott told a radio show today he will not convene a special session on same-sex marriage.

“I do not anticipate any special session,” the Republican told News Radio 1200 WOAI.  “They got their job done on time, and don’t require any overtime.”

That’s despite the calls from numerous social conservatives to do just that in a letter delivered to the governor last week. The signatories – including Texas Eagle Forum’s Cathie Adams, Conservative Republicans of Texas’ Steve Hotze, Texas Values’ Jonathan Saenz and others – requested the governor call the session ahead of a Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. Legal observers anticipate the decision would either legalize it nationwide or require states to recognize marriages performed out-of-state.

“Throughout his career, Governor Abbott has been a strong advocate for pro-family and pro-life issues.  We are confident that he will work to protect the choice of 76 percent of Texans who voted for the Marriage Amendment in the Texas Constitution,” Hotze said in a statement.

They were motivated to call the session following the House’s failure to pass HB 4105, The Preservation of State Sovereignty and Marriage Act, by Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia. Despite having the support of the majority of House Republicans, the bill died after failing to receive a floor vote.

Under Texas law only the governor may call a special session. But opponents to same-sex marriage aren’t done yet.

Think of the children should two loving individuals be allowed to marry:

“This issue is not about equality, it is about redefining marriage which would lead to individuals, families, churches, schools and businesses being forced to accept, affirm and celebrate those who practice homosexuality.  It would be mandated that children be taught in the schools that homosexuality is normal and healthy.  They would be encouraged to experiment with homosexuality, so that they could be easily recruited into the homosexual lifestyle. The homosexuals are intent on creating a sexual revolution that will bring moral anarchy to our society,” Hotze said.

Judging by the vitriol, it’s widely anticipated the right-wingnuts will bring out their pitchforks and burning effigies following the Supreme Court’s ruling; that is if the burning chariots of the Apocalypse don’t beat them to it.

—  James Russell

Even Rick Perry thinks Greg Abbott is a dumbass


Gov. Greg Abbott wearing his tinfoil hat

You know you’ve sunk to a new low when Woody Allen calls you a child molester, when Bill Cosby calls you a rapist or when Rick Perry points out that you’re a dumbass.

According to a Dallas local newspaper that endorsed Greg Abbott for governor — I don’t want to embarrass the Dallas Morning News by mentioning them by name — former Gov. Rick Perry said Abbott went too far in questioning U.S. military exercises in Texas.

Last week, Abbott ordered the Texas State Guard to monitor U.S. military operations in Texas. The exercise, dubbed “Jade Helm 15,” is taking place in Texas and several other states and has anti-Obama conspiracy theorists going wild.

Apparently Abbott thinks if things get out of hand, the Texas State Guard can control things.

Perry called the U.S. military “trustworthy” and said Abbott “went too far.”

President Barack Obama should call Abbott and ask him if he’d like the U.S. to move its bases out of Texas. Closing Fort Hood would devastate the Central Texas economy and any state would proudly house an installation of that size.

Fort Hood is the largest U.S. Army base in the country. I’m not military strategist but I’m just kinda wondering here if that just may be one of the reasons military exercises are taking place in Texas.

—  David Taffet

See? You can be a more embarrassingly stupid governor than Rick Perry


Greg Abbott pandering in front of the 11 Commandments monument at the state Capitol

The U.S. military is conducting regular military exercises in South Texas. That, of course, led to the conspiracy theorists gathering at town hall meetings and worrying that Obama was invading Texas and confiscating our guns. The exercise is dubbed “Jade Helm 15.”

Rather than ignore the people wearing tin foil hats, Gov. Greg Abbott is making a name for himself nationally by addressing the controversy and protecting the state from being overrun by putting the Texas State Guard on standby.

Progress Texas ran five headlines, including a plea from the newspaper that endorsed him, The Dallas Morning News: “Please don’t feed the conspiracy theorists, Gov. Abbott.”

Well, since Progress Texas ran its piece, the story has caught on across the country.

“U.S. military says it isn’t invading Texas, but Gov. Greg Abbott isn’t taking any chances,” reads the headline in The Birmingham News. Embarrassing when an Alabama newspaper is making fun of Texas.

Wait, it gets better. By the time Abbott gets through with his term, we won’t be able to proudly proclaim, “Thank God for Mississippi.”

Here’s a quote I got from Abbott about how he’s protecting the state (It’s embarrassingly from the Biloxi Sun-Herald. Yes, even Mississippi is in on the fun, but who can blame them?):

“It is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed,” Abbott wrote. “By monitoring the Operation on a continual basis, the State Guard will facilitate communications between my office and the commanders of the Operation to ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect Texans.”

Daily Beast headline: Texas Guv Surrenders to Conspiracy Nuts

Salon: Right-wing lunatics think the military is planning to invade Texas

Dallas Morning News: Ex-GOP lawmaker blisters Abbott for ‘pandering to idiots’ over military exercise

Wait, you endorsed him, right?

Well, Abbott has set the tone. It should be a fun four years covering him and his antics. You ever think you’d be saying these words? “Remember the good old days when Rick Perry was governor?”

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Judge won’t lift stay in Texas gay marriage case

GayTexasFlagA federal judge has declined to allow Texas same-sex couples to marry before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals can rule on the case.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio declared Texas’ same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional in February. But he stayed the ruling anticipating an appeal by Texas officials. Then–Attorney General and now Governor-elect Greg Abbott, a Republican, filed an appeal.

The Fifth Circuit has scheduled a hearing for Jan. 9 for the Texas case as well as for Mississippi and Louisiana.



—  James Russell