Abbott On The Speaker

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Commentary, Had Enough Yet? at 11:16 am by wcnews

Attorney General Greg Abbott not only decided to release his opinion on The Keffer Cook questions on a Friday, but on at 9:30 pm on Friday night to boot. Best EOW can tell the opinion is not really much of an opinion. More like a political football. He left enough ambiguity for both sides (Speaker and Keffer Cook) to claim some sort of victory.

Abbott punted the most serious issue of the whole opinion, in..ahem..EOW’s opinion. Whether or not the Speaker has to power to claim “absolute authority”about whether to recognize members of the house to speak.

QR thinks something smells about the AG’s opinion. Regarding not what was in the opinion but what was left out. They point out one of the most interesting things of Abbott’s opinion, he ingored precedent. Abbott’s opinion left out any reference to the prior removal of a Speaker in Texas.

What seems truly bizarre to this reader is that more deference was given to Knox v. Johsnon in which an appeals court decides a state hospital superintendent is considered a state officer than to the 1871 precedent in which the House removed a speaker. In fact, although the state constitutional convention of 1845 is referenced, the 1871 precedent is not.

In parsing through arcane case law, the Attorney General never looks to other states or federal examples where nearly identical constitutional issues have been adjudicated — something at least one expert told QR was the starting point of such a discussion in which no case law existed.

And of course, the Abbott opinion never seriously looks at the precedents cited in the briefs hostile to his conclusion.

But as usual the best response was from Rep. Jim Dunnam:

“No one should be surprised by Greg Abbott’s ruling. From the start, many other Texans and I expressed concern that the financial ties between Abbott and Craddick raise serious doubts about the fairness and independence of the opinion process. They are wed at the hip by the same donors, and the public record makes that clear (according to the Ethics Commission, they have taken more than $13.6 million in combined contributions from sources that gave $2,500 or more to each man). Unfortunately, Texas’ current Republican leadership puts allegiance to one another over the fundamentals of democracy. The result is what anyone would expect from the legacy of Tom DeLay politics.

“Beneath the tortured legal reasoning is this fundamental fact: Greg Abbott threw a lifeline to his ally Tom Craddick. Craddick’s lawyers concocted the notion that the Speaker serves a fixed two-year term and the Speaker that House members elect cannot be removed without Senate permission—what a joke. Now, his political partner Greg Abbott has backed up that ridiculous claim. They hope this AG Opinion will prevent any honest debate of the dictatorial and undemocratic methods we have come to expect. In that hope, they are wrong.

“No person with a common sense understanding of the fundamentals in our country, much less a trained lawyer, can condone Abbott’s opinion that Craddick should have the absolute power of a Tito, Mussolini or Stalin. If Greg Abbott really believes that, then we need a new Attorney General.

“Tom Craddick’s refusal to let members vote on his removal was the ultimate in political cowardice. Abbott’s silence regarding Craddick’s refusal to recognize members for that debate shows an equal lack of spine. As many work to ensure the rights of free men and women are available around the world, and as Texans are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan right now for those rights, it is regrettable that those same rights are absent in the Texas House, and that Greg Abbott condones that.

“The ruling means one thing: Texans must vote for representatives who will elect new leadership for the Texas House in January 2009.”

Rep. Dunnam is right. No one should be surprised. This is the way of the Republican Party - making up the rules to government as they go along. This will not matter much if we elect more anti-Craddick’s to the Texas Legislature.

While the Speaker is safe until 2009, he was anyway. This was not an opinion about whether Craddick would serve out his term. It was about how the Texas House of Representatives chooses and dethrones it’s leader. While Abbott siding with his crony is not surprising, it is surprising that he made his case by ignoring precedent.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.