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Latest Court Decision Blocking Texas’ Attempt to Defund Planned Parenthood Shows Need for Congressional Action

A U.S. district judge has blocked the state of Texas from cutting off Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid funding. This is the sixth instance in which a court has prevented a state from denying Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood: Arkansas, Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana have also attempted to make Planned Parenthood ineligible for funds.

On Dec. 20, 2016, the Office of Inspector General at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission sent a final notice informing Planned Parenthood that its participation in the state’s Medicaid program would be discontinued.

Referencing Center for Medical Progress videos released by pro-life activists in 2015, the notice informed Planned Parenthood that the inspector general “finds you are not qualified to provide medical services in a professionally competent, safe, legal and ethical manner under … state and federal law pertaining to Medicaid providers.”

According to Judge Sam Sparks’ ruling, the notice outlined specific alleged violations of accepted standards of medical practice by Planned Parenthood:

1. “A history of deviating from accepted standards to procure samples that meet researcher’s needs.”

2. “A history of permitting staff physicians to alter procedures to obtain targeted tissue samples needed for their specific outside research.”

3. “A willingness to convert normal pregnancies to the breech position to ensure researchers receive intact specimens.”

4. “An admission that ‘we get what we need to do to alter the standard of care where we are still maintaining patient safety, still maintaining efficiency in clinic operations, but we integrate research into it.’”

5. “An admission that Planned Parenthood gets requests for ‘information from our study sponsor on what data they need that is not our standard of care,’ and that [Planned Parenthood] provides what is needed by creating a separate research protocol or template that can include medically unnecessary testing.”

6. “A willingness to charge more than the costs incurred for procuring fetal tissue.”
Planned Parenthood sought a preliminary injunction claiming that Texas violated a federal statute commonly referred to as the Medicaid “free choice of provider” provision, which says that beneficiaries may obtain medical services “from any institution, agency, community pharmacy, or person qualified to perform the service or services required … who undertakes to provide him such services … ”

On Tuesday, Sparks sided with Planned Parenthood and issued the requested injunction.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton immediately announced plans to appeal the decision, sharply criticizing the judge’s decision to rule that “willingness to violate state and federal law on manipulating abortion procedures and profiting from the sale of fetal tissue, making false statements to law enforcement, and misleading multiple courts were insufficient grounds for Texas to exclude Planned Parenthood” from the state’s program. Planned Parenthood has denied any illegal activity.

In a press release, Texas Right to Life expressed disappointment in the decision, but added that it “hopes Texas will soon prevail in the decision to award Medicaid contracts to ethical providers that offer health services to Texas women and families”

Congress should follow Texas’ lead and end federal funding to Planned Parenthood affiliates and other abortion providers.

Disqualifying Planned Parenthood affiliates and other abortion providers from receiving Title X family planning grants, Medicaid reimbursements, and other grants and contracts does not reduce the overall funding for women’s health care.

The funds currently flowing to abortion providers can instead be distributed to health centers that offer comprehensive health care without entanglement with abortion on demand.

Congress should take this step in the context of the upcoming budget reconciliation bill to repeal Obamacare, ensuring that package includes a provision (just as the 2015 version of the bill did) that would make Planned Parenthood affiliates ineligible from receiving Medicaid reimbursements for one year after the enactment of the bill.

Ultimately, Congress should send the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which passed in the House of Representatives in January, to the president’s desk for signature. (For more from the author of “Latest Court Decision Blocking Texas’ Attempt to Defund Planned Parenthood Shows Need for Congressional Action” please click HERE)

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SCOTUS Declines to Protect Texas from Tyrannical Lower Court Injunction on Voter ID Law

Americans must show a form of photo ID to purchase a pack of Sudafed or to engage in any major transaction. Yet according to almost every lower court — including the “conservative” Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals — states can’t use their plenary power over election procedures to require a photo ID in order to protect the integrity of our democracy. Today, the Supreme Court declined to take up the appeal from the state of Texas in a bid to overturn the Fifth Circuit’s unconstitutional opinion.

My point is not to criticize the passive decision of the Supreme Court today, but rather to demonstrate how the entire conception of the modern federal judiciary as it relates to constitutional construction and its role in law-making is irremediably broken. And while it’s important to select the best nominee to SCOTUS as possible, merely “appointing good judges” alone will not save us from the tyranny of lower courts, absent wholesale judicial reform.

In Abbott v. Veasey, the Fifth Circuit upheld most of a district court’s ruling in describing Texas’s voter ID law as discriminatory against blacks, in violation of Section Two of the Voting Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment. The 9-6 en banc decision, which included some GOP-appointed judges, essentially said that blacks are too dumb and poor to provide a photo ID for the foundation of our democracy, even though they would be provided with one by the state free of charge. Today, the Supreme Court declined to take up the appeal. Chief Justice Roberts noted that because the case is not fully decided (it was remanded to the district court for further adjudication), he reserves the right to grant cert to a future appeal when the issue is finalized, but took a pass for the time being.

The decision from Roberts seems reasonable enough given the workload of the Supreme Court and that none of the conservatives, including Thomas, dissented from this denial (as he has done in previous denials of cert on important issues). However, this further proves my point about the broken nature of the judiciary. The capacity of good judges to do good is not nearly equal to the capacity of post-constitutional judges to do harm.

No state should have to wait even a single day to implement such a common sense regulation that is well within its constitutional powers. Yet, liberal groups have the ability to get an injunction against basic voter integrity laws within weeks and then encumber the law in the system for years. Even if we ultimately fill Scalia’s seat with an originalist, it will take years to grant relief to the states embattled by the legal profession and the lower courts. Unlike liberal Supreme Court justices who would take any opportunity to use their majority on the high court to overturn anything they disagree with from a lower court, conservative judges are never as aggressive the other way. The notion that a lower court, which is an institution created by Congress, can steal state powers away from the state — and that decision is not swatted down by the Supreme Court immediately — is one of the many reasons why we need wholesale reform.

Even if Ruth Bader Ginsburg retires and we successfully fill both her seat and Scalia’s seat with orginalists (relatively speaking), the 5-4 majority (yes, Kennedy is on the left) would not be a full safety valve for the Constitution. So much of the anti-constitutional jurisprudence surrounding the Fourteenth Amendment has been legitimized or at least tolerated by the legal Right that cases such as the Texas voter ID law will inhibit states from doing what they need to do to protect their elections in a timely fashion.

This is why, in addition to nominating the best judges to the Supreme Court, Congress should:

1. Immediately fill lower court vacancies and not wait the traditional six months to begin the process. [I’ll have more on this in a few days].

2. Finally harness their Article III Sec. 2 plenary power to “regulate and except” the jurisdiction of at least the lower courts, as I advocate in my book. All lower courts should be barred from adjudicating cases overturning state election laws. Those cases should be left to state courts, which are usually elected by the people of the state.

3. Pass resolutions explicitly defining the scope of the Voting Rights Act and prevent courts from using past erroneous precedent to apply anti-discrimination laws against universal voter integrity measures that are manifestly not discriminatory. The federal judiciary, especially lower courts created by Congress, don’t have a monopoly on constitutional interpretation, much less statutory interpretation. The House recently passed a similar bill with regard to regulatory litigation, barring the courts from using “the Chevron Doctrine” to allow executive agencies to bastardize environmental statutes in a way that was never intended by the legislative branch.

Supreme law Hierarchy

Most importantly, as we commence a national debate over the next SCOTUS nominee, conservatives inside and outside of Congress must utilize this focus to educate the public on the true role of the court system. As I’ve written before, even those founders who believed federal courts have the power of judicial review, understood that they are not the sole and final arbiter of every political issue. Judicial review does not equal judicial supremacy. The judiciary’s power is certainly not greater than the power of Congress, which in itself fully created the institution of the federal judiciary and has the power to regulate the court’s jurisdiction.

Many Republicans are giddy about assuming full control over the federal government and 33 state legislatures. But if nothing is done to reverse the false deference to judicial supremacy, the election will be rendered moot and the Constitution will continue to be tarnished. (For more from the author of “SCOTUS Declines to Protect Texas from Tyrannical Lower Court Injunction on Voter ID Law” please click HERE)

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Texas Governor Pledges to Sign Anti-Sanctuary City Bill

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he expects the Legislature to pass an anti-sanctuary city bill this year, opening a new front in the battle over “local control.”

Weighing in on the intensifying national immigration debate, the Republican governor pledged to sign S.B. 4, which would require municipalities to enforce migrant detainers at local jails and withhold state grants if they don’t comply.

“I will work with the Legislature to compel government bodies and employees to live up to their oath of office,” Abbott declared.

Cities, counties, or universities that violate the law will face a “multitude of consequence, ranging from financial penalties to removal from office,” the former state attorney general said.

Abbott, who has clashed with Sheriff Lupe Valdez over sanctuary policies in Dallas County, took aim at newly elected Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, who vowed to remove Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from the Austin jail.

“It’s erroneous to have an attitude that laws are like some big buffet where you can choose one item and ignore other items,” Abbott said, referring to sanctuary cities and campuses.

Federal law states: “A federal, state, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service [now ICE] information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any citizen.”

Responding to reports of crimes committed by illegal immigrants—some of them after multiple deportation—Hernandez told The Texas Tribune: “I just don’t think you solve the criminal justice process by deporting them. We talk about being progressive. I believe we need to lead the way.”

Larry Korkmas, president of Texans for Immigration Reduction and Enforcement, said sanctuary policies punish taxpayers while municipal and school officials complain about chronic funding shortages.

“If we enforced [immigration] laws, we would reduce our medical welfare and education costs,” Korkmas told

In introducing S.B. 4, state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, cited the election of Donald Trump, saying, “The American people made it clear that solving our illegal immigration crisis must be a priority. We cannot sit idly by and allow local policies to undercut efforts made at the federal and state level.”

Bob Dane, executive director of the nonpartisan Federation for American Immigration Reform, said, “Local politicians who support sanctuary policies are, in effect, giving the middle finger to federal law enforcement and, in so doing, giving it to every law-abiding, taxpaying resident.”

“Those days are over,” Dane told Watchdog from his Washington, D.C., office. “Since there is no longer fear of recrimination by [President] Barack Obama’s iron-fisted Department of Justice, Texas should pass [S.B. 4] and Abbott should sign it. The rule of law will be restored and Texas will be a safer place.”

Jeff Judson, a policy fellow with the market-oriented Heartland Institute, agreed.

“I think Abbott is smart enough to know how [antithetical] sanctuary cities are to voters. It fits with his belief that cities have abused their home-rule ‘local control’ and are violating freedoms the state is pledged to uphold,” said Judson, a former councilman in the San Antonio suburb of Olmos Park. (For more from the author of “Texas Governor Pledges to Sign Anti-Sanctuary City Bill” please click HERE)

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Will Texas Grant the Unborn Decent Burial?

Today, a Texas regulation was supposed to be implemented to preserve the dignity of unborn children’s lives by requiring that they be buried or cremated after an abortion or miscarriage.

Proposed by the state’s Health and Human Services Commission, the new regulation was simply an amendment to the existing code. The health services provisions previously allowed for aborted or miscarried fetuses to be ground up and discharged into sewer systems as alternatives to cremation or burial. The proposed law now requires internment via one of the latter two options, which are customarily applied to the deceased.

However, that regulation was blocked by a temporary injunction last Thursday by a U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks in Austin, Texas. He expects to make a final ruling regarding the regulation on January 6, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

Pro-choice groups joined with the Center for Reproductive Rights to challenge the regulation in a lawsuit in July. According to the AP, the Center for Reproductive Rights called the regulation “unwise, unjustified and unconstitutional.”

Mainstream Culture Living in Denial

Their outrage comes as no surprise. Required burial or cremation assumes that the deceased being is human, and such assumptions are inconvenient for pro-choice activists and abortionists. After all, it’s easier to justify the killing of millions of fetuses every year if you deny their humanity.

According to Amy Hagstrom-Miller, president and CEO of the case’s lead plaintiff Whole Women’s Health, it’s not the dignity of the unborn, but the dignity of women at stake.

“We will not stand for Texas putting more undue burdens on women and families who deserve the safe and compassionate abortion care that we provide at Whole Woman’s Health,” she said in a press release from the Center for Reproductive Rights

While the burial of the deceased is often acknowledged as a burden to the family they leave behind, no one argues that it’s “undue.” Unless, of course, the deceased isn’t recognized as a human being.

The lawsuit claims that “Women and their families hold a diversity of views on whether and when an embryo or fetus attains the status of a human being.” (Emphasis added.)

Whether and when. Not only is the lawsuit highlighting the hotly contested issue of when an unborn baby becomes alive — it is alleging that an unborn baby may not even be human at all!

The lawsuit claims that these diverse opinions about a baby’s humanity are “informed by science, culture, spirituality and religion.”

By suggesting that a fetus may not actually be human (and therefore completely eligible for killing, with no moral qualms), pro-choice culture is attempting to assuage the conscience of a society that aborts millions of unborn human children each year.

Mainstream Media Devalues Life in the Womb

The euphemistic bias has, unsurprisingly, seeped into the mainstream media.

The AP’s report on the judge’s block of the Texas regulations last Thursday is a perfect example. Consider this paragraph from AP reporter Will Weissert:

The Center for Reproductive Rights and other national advocacy groups sued to prevent Texas from requiring hospitals and clinics to bury or cremate fetal remains from abortions or miscarriages rather than disposing of them in a sanitary landfill, as they often currently do with such remains and other biological medical waste. (Emphasis added.)

Weissert is equating the bodies of unborn human beings with “biological medical waste,” as if an aborted child were the same as a discarded tumor.

The Truth Regarding Life

It doesn’t take a degree in science to recognize three simple truths that appear in grade school biology textbooks:

1. The being that grows inside a womb is human. Conceived of two humans, it can’t be anything else.

2. Since that being is constantly growing from the moment it enters the womb, we know it is alive.

3. Abortion ends that life.

Pro-choice activists and the media which follow their lead aren’t just rejecting religion and ethics; they are sunk in denial of basic medical facts. (For more from the author of “Will Texas Grant the Unborn Decent Burial?” please click HERE)

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How Texas Can Lead the Charge on Education Choice

The debate around school choice has shifted from whether states should enact education choice to how best to accomplish that goal.

In a special report released on Monday—co-published by The Heritage Foundation and the Texas Public Policy Foundation—we discuss how this question will be especially important in Texas, which is considering adopting education savings accounts, becoming a leader in the education choice movement.

What will now be critically important for Texas as it works to create education choice is that policymakers avoid adopting a flawed version of accountability.

More Choice, More Accountability

The best way for policymakers in Texas and elsewhere to expand access to a high-quality education for all children is to provide all families with education savings accounts that give them the maximum possible freedom to choose the education providers that work best for their children.

In “Recalibrating Accountability: Education Savings Accounts as Vehicles of Choice and Innovation,” we outline ways in which policymakers can ensure parent-centered accountability is a key feature of education savings accounts in Texas.

Education savings accounts enable families to access a variety of educational options beyond the traditional classroom.

In addition to, or even instead of, enrolling at a private school, students using education savings accounts might learn from tutors, take a course online or at a local college, study from a homeschool curriculum, or use some combination of these. Education savings accounts both empower parents to completely customize their child’s education and provide a platform for innovation.

Education savings accounts expand students’ opportunities and make education providers more directly accountable to parents. But this new model of education will require rethinking the way we hold education providers accountable. And it’s a rethinking that couldn’t come soon enough. For far too long, parents have been deprived of genuine accountability.

That’s because a lack of accountability is a hallmark of monopolies. District schools operate like monopolies because many parents have no viable alternatives. District schools are primarily accountable to politicians and unelected bureaucrats, not parents, and they receive funding regardless of their performance or whether they are meeting the needs of families.

And because district schools are not held directly accountable to parents, some policymakers have attempted to impose accountability through top-down government regulations. Yet decades of attempts to regulate district schools into quality have had little effect.

Without question, parents and taxpayers have a legitimate interest in the accountability debate.

Parents should have robust, contextual information about how their children are performing, and whether their education providers are setting them up to achieve their life goals and aspirations. Taxpayers, meanwhile, deserve transparency about how their dollars are being spent.

Unfortunately, too many policymakers have still come to see centralized government regulations as synonymous with “accountability” rather than an inferior alternative to direct accountability to parents, and have therefore sought to impose similar regulations on choice programs.

At the center of the technocratic approach to “accountability” is the standardized testing mandate. Yet research has demonstrated that over-reliance on standardized math and reading tests has the propensity to narrow the curriculum.

As a result, a uniform, statewide testing mandate can limit the supply of high-quality schools and education providers willing to participate in an education choice option as well as create an incentive for participating providers to teach to the test.

Parents and students can be better served by the numerous other market mechanisms that channel expert knowledge and user experience in order to make an informed decision. The plethora of college ratings providers is a good example of the types of information market eagerly provides.

Reviews such as U.S. News & World Report, Princeton Review, Forbes, Kiplinger’s, and Business Insider are examples of that. Sites like College Times, Students Review, Rate My Professors, and Get Educated provide a platform for students to share information about their actual experiences at the college they attended.

Because the market for K-12 education is still relatively small, there are fewer ratings providers. Nevertheless, websites like and are already providing parents with vital information as well as platforms for parents and students to share their experiences.

As the market for K–12 education grows, we should expect to see even more expert reviewers and platforms for user reviews to fill the growing demand for such information.

Holding education providers directly accountable to parents through market-based mechanisms creates a feedback loop that does not exist in more centralized, top-down systems like the district schools. This process builds on strengths and corrects errors more effectively than regulatory fiat.

Universal Access

In addition to creating parent-driven accountability, policymakers must also consider the scope of program eligibility.

“Universality”—the policy of allowing all children to be eligible for an education savings account, in addition to ensuring every child can match learning options with their unique education needs—can create broad public support for an education choice initiative to increase its likelihood of long-term viability.

Moreover, universality breaks the link between where children live and what school they attend, creating competition among all schools to catalyze improvements for all children.

A robust education market will also require education providers to have the freedom to innovate and parents to have the freedom to choose the providers that best meet their child’s needs.

States therefore should avoid well-intentioned but misguided regulations such as open admissions requirements, price controls, state testing mandates, and excessive reporting requirements.

Although intended to guarantee access and accountability, these regulations produce consequences that can reduce the effectiveness of education savings accounts and even undermine their goals.

It’s time for America’s education system to catch up to the 21st century. Our institution-centric system of district schools built for the industrial age is not well equipped to educate children in the information age.

What’s needed now is a student-centric system that empowers parents to customize their child’s education. Education savings accounts are the most effective way yet designed to achieve that goal.

Texas should seize the opportunity to lead the way. (For more from the author of “How Texas Can Lead the Charge on Education Choice” please click HERE)

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Texas Judge Victorious Over Atheist Group in Prayer Dispute

Judge Wayne Mack, a justice of the peace in Montgomery County, Texas, recalls several people telling him they were initially worried about coming before his court, but after the chaplain’s prayer opened the proceedings, they felt better.

“It was clear it would be a solemn event and they knew I would be fair,” Mack told The Daily Signal in a phone interview a day after the Texas attorney general’s opinion held that opening court with a chaplain’s prayer and the voluntary chaplain program Mack established were constitutional.

Mack started a voluntary chaplaincy program that has more than 60 clergymen participating, including Christians, Jews, Hindus, and people of other faiths. It openly invites, “all religious leaders of any faith in to participate.”

As a justice of the peace, Mack also serves as the coroner for the Montgomery County. It was in this duty that he first implemented the voluntary chaplain program, after finding himself not always able to console people when he had to be first on the scene for deaths.

In a six-page opinion issued Monday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton noted the 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Town of Greece v. Galloway, which determined that initiating local government meetings with prayer did not violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. The Establishment Clause of the Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof … ”

Paxton compared Mack’s courtroom with the Town of Greece, New York, writing, “In both instances, religious leaders of any faith are invited to deliver a prayer at the beginning of proceedings.”

“A court would likely conclude that a justice of the peace’s practice of opening daily court proceedings with a prayer by a volunteer chaplain as you describe is sufficiently similar to the facts in Galloway such that the practice does not violate the Establishment Clause,” the opinion reads.

He added, “A court would likely conclude that the volunteer chaplain program you describe, which allows religious leaders to provide counseling to individuals in distress upon request, does not violate the Establishment Clause.”

The Paxton opinion cited lower court rulings on chaplain programs.

“Courts in other jurisdictions have likewise upheld the hiring of chaplains by a county hospital, prisons, and military establishments in order to provide counseling and guidance to individuals who request it,” the opinion said.

It added, “In each of these cases, the chaplains were paid by public funds, creating more significant Establishment Clause concerns than exist here, where the chaplains serve on a voluntary basis without cost to the taxpayer and only upon request of those who wish to receive the chaplain’s assistance.”

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation isn’t happy with the opinion, but asserts that the matter is likely over because two individuals who regularly appear before the court felt “fearful” about how Mack would judge their case and are not willing to file a suit.

“We are confident that if we could bring this [case] before a federal judge, we could prove this far exceeds precedent, but we can’t do that without a plaintiff willing to challenge Judge Mack,” said Sam Grover, staff attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, in a phone interview with The Daily Signal.

There was never an intent to offend anyone, and whether someone participated in the courtroom prayer would have no affect on the ruling, Mack said.

“I would never use the bench as a pulpit,” he said. “Both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Texas Supreme Court open with prayers.”

The Texas attorney general’s opinion marks a decisive victory for Mack, after getting a mixed victory before the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct, based on the Freedom From Religion Foundation complaint from 2014. The judicial commission dismissed the complaint, but “strongly cautioned” against the chaplain program and prayer.

But the commission ruling that offered neither discipline nor a mandate to stop, led Mack and First Liberty Institute, a religious freedom advocacy group that represents the judge, to seek more clarity. In February, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick asked Paxton to issue a clarifying opinion on the constitutionality of the case.

“The attorney general’s opinion is clear and sound constitutionally,” Mack said. “It emboldens believers of any faith to stand up for the First Amendment because it’s the First Amendment for a reason. The tyranny of political correctness is causing people to step away from their values. They should stand up and be counted.”

The attorney general opinion offers a clear victory, said Kelly Shackelford, president of First Liberty Institute.

“This is a total victory for Judge Mack and for the citizens of Texas,” Shackelford said in a statement. “If the Supreme Courts of the United States and Texas can open with prayer, clearly, the law allows for Judge Mack’s court to open with an invocation by a volunteer chaplain. We are grateful Attorney General Paxton has brought clarity to this important issue, reaffirming the constitutionality of prayer in the public arena.”

However, Grover of the Freedom From Religion Foundation contends that Paxton did not address the group’s main points from a letter sent in April.

“None of the points we raised were addressed. The opinion barely scratches the surface,” Grover said. “This far exceeds the ceremonial acknowledgment of a deity to open of the the Supreme Court or the Texas Supreme Court.”

Grover said merely allowing multiple faiths to participate in the chaplain program doesn’t mean it’s not exclusionary to nonbelievers.

“It makes the violation less severe, but a prayer in any setting, any prayer of any religion leaves out a large segment of nonreligious people,” Grover said. (For more from the author of “Texas Judge Victorious Over Atheist Group in Prayer Dispute” please click HERE)

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University of Texas Professors Sue Over Concealed Guns Allowed in Their Classrooms

Three professors are fighting a Texas law that allows students to carry concealed handguns in their college classrooms.

Senate Bill 11, allowing concealed handgun license holders 21 and older (or 18 if active military) to carry in campus buildings, was signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, in June 2015. The law went into effect Aug. 1 this year.

Lawyers for Jennifer Lynn Glass, Lisa Moore, and Mia Carter, all professors at the University of Texas at Austin, made their case to a federal judge last week.

The professors requested a preliminary injunction to block the new campus carry law and had filed suit on July 6 against the attorney general of Texas, Ken Paxton; the president of the University of Texas at Austin, Gregory Fenves; and members of the University of Texas Board of Regents.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel made no ruling during the court hearing after lawyers for the professors and for the university struggled to agree on the university’s rules and policies on concealed weapons, the Austin American-Statesman reported. Instead, Yeakel requested more information to clarify university concealed weapon policies.

“Compelling professors at a public university to allow, without any limitation or restriction, students to carry concealed guns in their classrooms chills their First Amendment rights to academic freedom,” the lawsuit says.

Paxton, the Republican Texas attorney general, called the professors’ lawsuit “frivolous.”

“There is no legal justification to deny licensed, law-abiding citizens on campus the same measure of personal protection they are entitled to elsewhere in Texas,” Paxton said in statement.

Paxton filed a response with the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas Austin Division on Aug. 1 in opposition to the University of Texas professors’ request for preliminary injunction.

The professors “have no right under the First Amendment to violate the Second Amendment rights of students,” Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal. “And it is insulting to law-abiding gun owners—categorizing them as crazies who will kill someone over a debate in a classroom.”

A 1995 Texas law allows concealed handguns to be carried in public, including on the grounds of public college campuses, but previously excluded campus buildings, the Statesman reported.

Under the new law, public institutions of higher education cannot “generally” prohibit license holders from carrying concealed weapons, but are allowed to establish “rules, regulations, or other provisions” restricting guns from places like labs with dangerous chemicals and regarding the storage of handguns in residential dorm facilities.

Private colleges can opt out of the law. So far, almost all private institutions of higher education have decided to opt out, The Dallas Morning News reports.

Moore, one of the plaintiffs, who teaches English and gender studies, told NPR that “it’s impossible to do our jobs with this policy in place.” She continued:

We all teach subject matter that is quite sensitive, and we all use very participatory, you know, pedagogically sound methods of trying to teach students how to state their views on controversial subjects, challenge one another and stand up for what they believe in.

“I am genuinely not equipped to keep students safe from a firearm in my classroom,” Moore added.

Allison Peregory, a 21-year-old University of Texas pre-law student, plans to get a state-issued concealed weapon license and carry on her campus, The Dallas Morning News reported.

“It’s important for people to have their right to self-defense be protected,” Peregory said, according to the Morning News.

Aug. 1 marked the 50th anniversary of a mass shooting that took place at the University of Texas at Austin.

“It is quite ironic; they [the professors] are apparently unaware that private citizens, including students, helped police in 1966 stop Charles Whitman, the University of Texas Tower sniper, when they grabbed their guns and started firing at the sniper in the tower,” Heritage’s von Spakovsky said. “One of those Texans, Allen Crum, even climbed to the top of the tower with a rifle to assist the policeman who eventually killed Whitman.”

Brian Bensimon, Students for Concealed Carry’s director for the state of Texas, told The Daily Signal that the professors’ lawsuit is “perplexing.”

“Concealed carry is allowed in our state capitol,” Bensimon said. “There’s plenty of open debate and lively discourse there.”

Students for Concealed Carry is trying to block a University of Texas rule that allows professors to ban concealed weapons from their individual office space. The group filed a complaint with Paxton on Aug. 4.

“Gun control advocates think that gun bans will make people safer,” John R. Lott, a columnist for and author of “The War on Guns,” wrote in an op-ed. “But banning guns only ensures that law-abiding good citizens are disarmed, not the killers. Instead of bans improving safety, these bans attract killers and make it easier for them to commit crimes.”

Eight states—Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin—have provisions allowing concealed weapons to be carried by students on public higher education campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eighteen states ban carrying concealed weapons on college campuses. (For more from the author of “University of Texas Professors Sue Over Concealed Guns Allowed in Their Classrooms” please click HERE)

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Texas Gets the Best Deal It Could With DOJ on Voter ID for the Election

It looks as if Texas, the Justice Department, and all of the other parties, including the NAACP, involved in the challenge to the state’s voter ID law have worked out an interim settlement—and the district court judge approved the deal today after a telephonic hearing Wednesday morning. That deal is probably about the best deal Texas could expect to get given the circumstances and personalities in the case.

In Veasey v. Abbott, Texas (and the cause of election integrity) suffered a blow three weeks ago when the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the voter ID law violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because it supposedly had a discriminatory effect, despite the fact that there was no evidence that the ID law had diminished turnout in Texas elections.

In fact, as the dissent pointed out in the appeals court, “despite extraordinary efforts,” neither the Justice Department nor any of the other so-called civil rights organizations who sued were able to uncover any Texas voters who were unable to vote because of the law.

The 5th Circuit sent the case back down to the district court to fashion a remedy for the small number of Texans who the court claimed could not obtain the free ID that the state issues to anyone who doesn’t already have one. It also told the district court to “re-examine” the evidence on whether the Texas Legislature had intentionally discriminated when it passed this law.

The district court judge, Nelva Gonzales Ramos, a 2011 President Barack Obama appointee, had found Texas guilty of purposeful discrimination even though, as the dissent noted in the appeals court, “the multi-thousand page record yields not a trace, much less a legitimate inference, of racial bias by the Texas Legislature.”

Ramos even made the bizarre claim that the voter ID law was a prohibited poll tax, despite the state providing free IDs to its residents. Fortunately, that wacky ruling was thrown out by the 5th Circuit.

However, on Aug. 3, the parties in the case filed a “Joint Submission of Agreed Terms” with Ramos. In it, the parties have agreed that Texas voters who don’t have one of the acceptable photo IDs under the statute will still be able to vote if they:

present a valid voter registration certificate, a certified birth certificate, a current utility bill, a bank statement, a government check, a paycheck, or any other government document that displays the voter’s name and an address and complete and sign a reasonable impediment declaration.

The “reasonable impediment declaration” is a reference to the type of form that is used in South Carolina, which also has a voter ID law. If a voter shows up at a polling place without an ID, he or she is able to vote upon completion of a form in which the voter declares that there was a “reasonable impediment” that prevented him from getting an ID.

This provision of South Carolina’s voter ID law was upheld as perfectly acceptable and not a violation of the Voting Rights Act by a three-judge federal panel in 2012 in South Carolina v. United States, a case in which South Carolina successfully challenged the Justice Department’s refusal to approve the ID law.

What is bizarre about this is that the North Carolina Legislature copied that “reasonable impediment” exception in its voter ID law, and yet a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that law to be a violation of the Voting Rights Act.

The North Carolina decision, NAACP v. McCrory, directly conflicts with the 2012 South Carolina decision. But that earlier loss by the Justice Department may help explain why it has agreed to this settlement with Texas that uses the same “reasonable impediment” exception that the 4th Circuit just invalidated.

Texas actually managed to get better terms than either North or South Carolina since, in addition to completing a “reasonable impediment” declaration, the voter will have to show some kind of document such as a utility bill or bank statement with his name and address.

This actually copies a provision in the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002, 52 U.S.C. § 21083(b), which requires any individual who registers to vote by mail to provide a copy of a “utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter.”

It is not as good as a government-issued photo ID, but this is probably about the best that Texas could get given the federal judges it is dealing with in the 5th Circuit. And it is difficult for the Justice Department to claim that a requirement modeled on a federal voting requirement is discriminatory.

Texas is also asking that language be included in the interim order issued by the district court judge that makes it clear that the state is not waiving any of its rights to seek appellate review of the decisions that have been issued in this litigation. It also wants it explicitly laid out that the Texas Legislature will not in any way be limited from fashioning its own remedy or otherwise amending the voter ID law when it returns for its 2017 session.

From the standpoint of Texas, this is probably the best deal it could get. The earlier ruling of Ramos displayed a bias against voter ID laws in general , as evidenced by her apparent belief that there are no rational reasons for a legislature to pass a voter ID law other than to discriminate against minority voters.

Fortunately, she approved the deal Wednesday. She did not approve the requested language about the Legislature, but a source tells me that she apparently recognized from the bench that she can’t prevent the Legislature from acting in the future. (For more from the author of “Texas Gets the Best Deal It Could With DOJ on Voter ID for the Election” please click HERE)

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Federal Court Issues Voter ID Ruling That Could Impact Election

A federal court ruled Wednesday that Texas’ voter identification law violates the U.S. Voting Rights Act prohibition on racial discrimination in elections.

In its 9-6 ruling, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the 2011 voter ID law makes it harder for blacks and Hispanics to vote, and asked a district court to make changes to the law before the general election in November. “The district court must ensure that any remedy enacted ameliorates [the law’s] discriminatory effect, while respecting the legislature’s stated objective to safeguard the integrity of elections by requiring more secure forms of voter identification,” the court said.

The law, Senate Bill 14, requires voters to present proof of identification, including a state driver’s license or ID card, a U.S. passport, an election ID certificate, a military ID card, a concealed handgun license or a U.S citizenship certificate with a photo.

Proponents said it prevents voter fraud, and noted that Texas makes it easy for voters to acquire ID cards free of charge.

In the ruling, however, Judge Catharina Haynes wrote, “The record shows that drafters and proponents of SB 14 were aware of the likely disproportionate effect of the law on minorities, and that they nonetheless passed the bill without adopting a number of proposed ameliorative measures that might have lessened this impact.”

Judges who disagreed with the ruling said, “Requiring a voter to verify her identity with a photo ID at the polling place is a reasonable requirement widely supported by Texans of all races and members of the public belonging to both political parties. The majority ruling ‘fans the flames’ of perniciously irresponsible racial name-calling.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the court had “wrongly concluded” that the law had a discriminatory effect. “Voter fraud is real, and it undermines the integrity of the election process,” he said in a statement.

The Texas Democratic Party, on the other hand, celebrated the ruling. “The most restrictive and discriminatory Republican voter ID law in country has been struck down,” it said. (For more from the author of “Federal Court Issues Voter ID Ruling That Could Impact Election” please click HERE)

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Texas Student Suspended After Carrying Classmate Having Asthma Attack to Nurse

A Killeen mother is defending her son who was suspended after helping a fellow student having an asthma attack.

Anthony Ruelas, 15, said his eighth grade classmate was wheezing and gagging for three minutes Tuesday morning while no one did anything. But when Ruelas did do something, he apparently broke the rules.

“He may not follow instructions all the time, but he does have a great heart,” said Mandy Cortes, Ruelas’ mother.

Ruelas goes to Gateway Middle School, an alternative school in the Killeen Independent School District. Ruelas has been suspended before, but Tuesday was different.

“I wasn’t trying to hear it,” said Cortez. When she picked her son up from school for the suspension she told him,”No, they already told me what happened you walked out of class, and he was like ‘ok forget it’, but I can tell, ya know you know your kids, I could tell he was upset.” (Read more from “Texas Student Suspended After Carrying Classmate Having Asthma Attack to Nurse” HERE)

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