Forgive me for the oafish headline, but I could think of no better equivalent to what I read this morning. First, the background.
The Dallas Morning News reports that Attorney General Greg Abbott, despite being confined to a wheelchair and an allegedly ardent support of the Americans with Disabilities Act, has fervently fought against other disabled Texans who sue under that law and similar ones. The article, which does read like a hit-piece, chronicles Abbott’s early support of the law, both as Justice on the Texas Supreme Court and a private citizen, including being instrumental in the charge to add wheelchair accessibility to the Supreme Court’s chambers and other offices.
However, the Morning News makes the claim that, upon becoming Attorney General, everything changed. Abbott received his thirty pieces of silver, so to speak, and began to vigorously defend the State against charges of discrimination. Specifically, Abbott’s office used the tired claim that, under Sovereign Immunity, the cases must be thrown out as they are a textbook example of the State being sued without its consent. Normally, such an argument would be valid, but a key exception is made when dealing with the ADA.
Under the ADA, most every local governmental organization receives some Federal funding. This funding bounds them to adhere by federal rules and regulations, and thus waives any immunity the State may have against suit following violations of those rules and regulations. Accordingly, at least in the cases the Morning News cataloged, the State went 0-9 in their futile defense of the State against charges of discrimination against the disabled.
The discrimination charges levied against the State were not unreasonable in any respects. Examples provided by the Morning News article include a blind Public University professor seeking improvements to her office and deaf criminal defendants seeking ASL interpreters.
Additionally, Abbott even made the ludicrous argument before the Texas Supreme Court that a person with a prosthetic leg was not actually disabled. The court, known as one of the most conservative and plaintiff-unfriendly in all the land, unanimously repudiated Abbott’s argument in just a few short weeks. The entire Morning News article is well worth your time to read, and I highly encourage everyone to do so. As for the implications this holds for both Abbott’s past and his future, I would like to speak on that subject for a little while.
My headline, despite trying to be purposefully evocative in demonstrating just how much of a hatchet job Abbott got from the normally conservative Morning News, has added relevance for his history in politics. Longtime observers of Abbott will remember the man as an urban, moderate, pragmatic Republican. Then, of course, when the Tea Party was thrust into town ahead of his second re-election bid, Abbott lunged all the way into crazy-town.
Therefore, the significance of this story is that Abbott will betray even those demographics he is a part of, in the pursuit of his own personal advancement. Every Judas is blinded by greed, and while Iscariot’s greed may have been best exemplified by money, Abbott’s is shown by power. 30 pieces of silver, for the Attorney General, is the Governor’s office.
The Wendy Davis campaign’s chance at redemption lies in how they handle this opportunity. As has been said many times, they will not gain traction unless they agree to go on the offensive. Unless they hit Abbott’s campaign where it hurts.
Brains & Eggs has more.