The San Antonio Express-News reports that Federal District Judge Orlando Garcia (a Clinton appointee who had previously held both Judicial and non-Judicial office in Texas as a Democrat) has set a hearing on the constitutionality of the ban on gay marriage and civil unions in Texas. The hearing, which will be held on February 12, will determine if a temporary injunction should be granted against enforcement of the provision. That being said, even if the District Court agrees with plaintiffs, such a decision would probably be summarily quashed by the Fifth Circuit upon emergency appeal, as what happened in the HB2 saga.
The case involves two couples, a lesbian one from Austin who had legally been married when residing in Massachusetts, as well as a gay one from the DFW area who, as far as I can tell, simply want to get married though have not done so yet. Plaintiffs admit that this case is meant to eventually consolidate with others from around the nation in order to present a compelling case to the Supreme Court to overturn bans on gay marriage.
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The Houston City Council took no major action this week, as Councilmembers high and low tagged proposals to delay them for one week. Instead, the only updates we have are those that seek to prognosticate towards the future involving existing proposals, almost all of which were pushed back by the dilatory tactic.
First, KPRC is reporting on a proposal to relax the City’s alcohol sales ordinance, which bans any store from selling beer or wine within 1000 feet to a school or a church. Mayor Parker has now proposed easing the regulation to 300 feet, applying only to “larger grocery stores.” I have no idea what the cutoff between a small store and a large grocery store is, and I am in no small part concerned about the possibility that this is an olive branch to Wal-Mart and the like. That being said, perhaps I am just misreading all of it.
The proposal is meant to attract more grocery stores to low-income areas, where very small churches are often ubiquitously located in strip-malls alongside shopping centers. These low-income areas are often called Food Deserts for the scarcity of healthy eating and shopping options nearby. The Houston Chronicle recently cataloged these problems, citing efforts by the City to help alleviate the problems.
Click here to read about the Payday Lending ordinance and why it is in jeopardy!
KVUE reports (the Austin-American Statesman also had an article, but the paywall just ticks me off) that Rosemary Lehmberg has successfully persisted through a removal trial. As I mentioned briefly on Monday, this stems from a complaint citing a little-known Texas statute authorizing removal from office for “intoxication.” Yes, prohibition really is one of those gifts that keeps on giving. Rosemary Lehmberg, of course, is the District Attorney of Travis County who was arrested earlier this year for drunk driving. She later pleaded guilty to the offense, spent some time in jail before temporarily checking herself into rehab for alcoholism.
The trial, which lasted three days, featured most of its testimony from the prosecution. They largely focused on the crime, as well as what the article calls “testimony from her therapists,” which I am sure pertain to alcoholism and her alleged inability to successfully conduct herself in a place of business.
Lehmberg’s defense largely depended upon testimonials from her office and others with a say in how her professional duties are carried out. The witnesses, which included a CPS officer, the DA First Assistant and a local Judge, all echoed the same belief that the alleged alcoholism has not and would not impair her work at the Courthouse.
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Laziness heralded the day for the Texas Democrats shooting themselves in the foot at the close of the filing deadline, but it is unbridled stupidity carrying the banner for the Harris County Democrats next year. Again, not from the leadership, but from the average people. I will post a full list at the bottom of the post, but would like to talk about a few things first.
There will be six Court of Appeals slots up for election to a 6 year term, between the seats on the 14th Court of Appeals and the 1st Court of Appeals. These elections were remarkably close in 2008, meaning that changing demographics should probably make them just as competitive –if not more– in 2014. But will they be competitive? No. Because the Democrats, once again, were too LAZY to contest half of the slots. One candidate, Jim Sharp, actually won in 2008. He will be running for re-election, and Kyle Carter, a good District Judge, will run for another post. These two men will be great candidates! Another candidate, Gordon Goodman, has filed but I do not have any info on him yet, nor do any of my attorney sources have information on him.
When it comes to District Courts in Harris County, there are a full 36 posts up for election, between Civil, Criminal, Family and Juvenile courts. In 2010, every single one of these posts had a Democratic candidate, and as I recall most every candidate was well qualified and overall competent. Only 27 of these will be contested by the Democrats this time around, including four races where Democrats will be fighting one another instead of the incumbent Republican judges.
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When it comes to last minute Statewide filings, there were few big surprises besides Steve Stockman going up against John Cornyn, and Justice Larry Meyers becoming a Democrat, both of which I have previously covered. Indeed, the news I will focus on is the continued laziness and complacency of the Democrats, which in and of itself is not especially surprising. But more on that about two paragraphs down.
For the non-Judicial posts, Democrats were responsible enough this go-around to recruit candidates for all of the openings for the first time in six years (in 2010, we allowed Susan Combs to be re-elected without contest, and in 2012, we allowed Barry Smitherman to do the same). Except for the Agriculture Commissioner, Railroad Commissioner and Governor (Wendy Davis faces token opposition), all the other Democrats stood alone in their primaries. The obvious major exception is for the US Senate seat, which will feature three major candidates, David Alameel, Michael Fjetland and Maxey Scherr.
For the Judicial positions, a few qualified candidates also ran. Bill Moody, an El Paso District Judge who has previously run for the Supreme Court, will seek the Chief Justice’s office. The aforementioned Larry Meyers, who currently serves as a Justice on the Court of Criminal Appeals, will run for a spot on the Supreme Court. Gina Benavides, the Chief Justice of the 13th Court of Appeals (based in Corpus Christi), will run for yet another spot. Additionally, John Granberg, an attorney out of El Paso, will run for the Court of Criminal Appeals. These four candidates will be extraordinarily competent on the campaign trail and would make fine Supreme Court or Court of Criminal Appeals Justices.
But the Dems left three seats without candidates. Click here to read why that is inexcusable!
I first came to Brandeis University as a brash and capricious 18-year-old, ready to take on all the challenges that college would throw at me. I looked forward to meeting new people, understanding diverse world-views and forming an overall better rounded opinion of life.
Now, as I write my last op-ed as a student at Brandeis, other than now being 19, I cannot think of anything that has really changed in that regard.
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The Houston Chronicle reports that Justice Larry Meyers of the Court of Criminal Appeals has switched to the Democratic Party and will run on the Democrat slate for the Texas Supreme Court. Meyers, originally a Republican, first served on the 2nd Court of Appeals from 1989 to 1992. That year, he was elected to the Court of Criminal Appeals (and was re-elected 1998, 2004 and 2010).
Meyers, who comes from the court’s more moderate wing (4 members), has flirted with this possibility before. As Grits for Breakfast reminds us, he briefly ran against Sharon Keller in the 2012 Republican primary. He was also heavily lobbied to run the race as a Democrat, via The Dallas Morning News. Ultimately, neither of these fantasies for the anti-Keller crowd came to pass.
Today’s bombshell announcement came as Justice Meyers made no formal announcement. Instead, the news broke from a press release of the Texas Democratic Party, which briefly touted Justice Meyer’s record, with quotes from TDP Executive Director Will Hailer and TDP Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa–but not Meyers.
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