Tag Archives: Attorney General

Today in Texas History – March 21

From the Annals of the Losing Litigators –  In 2010, then Texas Attorney General (and now Poor Idiot Governor) Greg Abbott made the following statement regarding the passage of the Affordable Care Act: “The federal health care legislation passed tonight violates the United States Constitution and unconstitutionally infringes upon Texans’ individual liberties. To protect all Texans’ constitutional rights, preserve the constitutional framework intended by our nation’s founders, and defend our state from further infringement by the federal government, the State of Texas and other states will legally challenge the federal health care legislation.”

Abbott  completely failed in his attempt (and wasted a bunch of Texas tax dollars) to have the ACA overturned in federal court.   In National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the Unitied States Supreme Court upheld Congress’ power to enact most provisions of the ACA and Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act including the individual mandate requiring most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty.  The Court upheld the mandate as a constitutional exercise of Congress’s taxing power.

Ted Cruz has Anti-Dildo Vote Locked Up

Ted Cruz (TP-Texas) formerly served as the Solicitor General of Texas under then Attorney General and Greg Abbott.  As SG, part of Cruz’s job was to defend Texas laws when they were attacked in court.  So Red is a bit sympathetic with the Junior Senator (words you won’t read very often), as the attorney’s job is to advocate for his client.  But the time Cruz worked to defend the so-called “Anti-Dildo” law provides some insight into the workings of the brilliant legal mind of Cruz.  In 2004, several Austin sex-toy stores and a retail distributor of such products challenged the Anti-Dildo law which prohibited the sale and promotion of supposedly obscene devices.  A violation of the law was punishable by a prison term of up to two years.  Since the suit attacked the constitutionality of the law, the Attorney General’s office weighed in and Cruz presented a forceful defense of Texas’ right to keep it citizens free from the pernicious influence of the dastardly dildo peddlers.  David Corn at Mother Jones has the full story.

 The brief insisted that Texas, in order to protect “public morals,” had  “police-power interests” in “discouraging prurient interests in sexual gratification, combating the commercial sale of sex, and protecting minors.” There was a  “government” interest, it maintained, in “discouraging…autonomous sex.” The brief compared the use of sex toys to “hiring a willing prostitute or engaging in consensual bigamy,” and it equated advertising these products with the commercial promotion of prostitution. In perhaps the most noticeable line of the brief, Cruz’s office declared, “There is no substantive-due-process right to stimulate one’s genitals for non-medical purposes unrelated to procreation or outside of an interpersonal relationship.” That is, the pursuit of such happiness had no constitutional standing. And the brief argued there was no “right to promote dildos, vibrators, and other obscene devices.” The plaintiffs, it noted, were “free to engage in unfettered noncommercial speech touting the uses of obscene devices,” but not speech designed to generate the sale of these items.

Fortunately, Cruz lost this legal battle and Texas was spared from the horrors of a thriving dildo black market.  But if you are a squarely in the anti-dildo column, you have found your candidate.


Ken Paxton Ignores First Rule of Holes

The news just isn’t getting any better for embattled Attorney General Ken Paxton who now faces possible contempt charges over his refusal to follow the law of the land on same-sex marriage following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.  Paxton has put up roadblocks wherever possible to state recognition of same-sex marriage hoping no doubt to assuage to his Tea Party base in light of his other legal troubles.  Under the guidance of Paxton, the Texas Department of health has so far denied a terminally ill gay man a death certificate naming his legally wed spouse as his husband. AP reports on the brewing controversy in a federal court in San Antonio.

Judge Orlando Garcia ordered Paxton to appear in a San Antonio federal court next Wednesday after a Houston gay man was not provided an amended death certificate for his husband. The court order comes just two days after Paxton was booked on securities fraud charges.

The hearing is to determine whether Paxton and Kirk Cole, interim commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, should be held in contempt after potentially disobeying a July 7 court order barring the state from enforcing any laws “that prohibit or fail to recognize same-sex marriage,” according to the court order.

Garcia further ordered that state officials must provide an amended death certificate to John Stone-Hoskins of Conroe, who had filed court papers earlier Wednesday asking the judge to force Texas officials to place his name on the certificate for his husband, James Stone-Hoskins, who died in January. The two were married last year in New Mexico. 

He had argued that the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision on gay marriage in June means his name should be placed on his spouse’s death certificate. The ruling required all states to recognize same-sex marriages, even those performed elsewhere, and overturned any legal bans.

The certificate listed James Stone-Hoskins as single and referred to his husband as a “significant other.” In court papers John Stone-Hoskins says he’s facing a terminal illness and wants to settle his estate and have state records recognize his marriage. He added during a news conference Wednesday that he should be able to inherit his spouse’s estate but cannot because the certificate doesn’t list him as the surviving spouse. Complicating matters was that his husband didn’t have a will when he died, according to court papers.

“This is about every same sex couple that’s going through or could go through what I’m going through now,” he said.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has said it’s reviewing the Supreme Court ruling to determine if changes must be made to death certificate documents.

“This involves taking a broad look at a variety of forms and vital records,” agency spokeswoman Carrie Williams said in a statement provided earlier to WFAA-TV in Dallas. “Our attorneys are working with the AG’s office on the analysis. We hope to finish the analysis in the coming weeks. Once we complete that analysis, we would make any necessary changes as soon as possible.”