Saturday, August 04, 2007

Texas Progressive Alliance Files Brief on Speaker Authority

North Texas Liberal is extremely proud to join our fellow members of the Texas Progressive Alliance in filing an opinion with the Attorney General regarding actions taken by Speaker Tom Craddick during the 80th Texas Legislature. From the press release...

The Texas Progressive Alliance, a confederation of more than 50 Texas bloggers and Internet activists representing many of Texas' most prominent blogs, this morning filed a brief with the Texas Attorney General's office in relation to Request for Opinion No. RQ-0589-GA, pertaining to the authority of the Office of Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.

The initial request for the opinion relating to the power of the Speaker was made June 18, 2007 by Texas State Representatives Jim Keffer and Byron Cook following the close of the 80th Texas Legislature which ended with House Speaker Tom Craddick (R-Midland) refusing to recognize House members for a Motion to Vacate the Chair claiming his office was above the precedents and rules of the House and was instead only subject to impeachment pursuant to the Texas Constitution.

Initially, the Attorney General's office invited only 29 individuals and organizations to submit briefs in connection with the Opinion Request. However, the process was later opened to all interested parties.

"Once the door was opened, we felt we would be remiss in not submitting a brief," said Vince Leibowitz of, Chair of the Texas Progressive Alliance. "As bloggers and citizen journalists, we all covered this process. We all examined the rules, the Texas Constitution, and case law and offered our opinions on this on our websites. We offered our opinions and shared with our world our collective shock at Speaker Craddick's actions, and felt this was a prime opportunity to interject some of our ideas on this process," Leibowitz continued.

The Alliance's brief addressed each of the four questions posed in Reps. Keffer's and Cook's opinion request, and brought to the attention of the OAG's opinion committee other information as well.

A key issue in the debate over the speaker's power concerns whether or not the Speaker of the House of Representatives is a legislative officer or a "statewide" officer, subject only to impeachment. Though precedent (including the removal of a speaker over a century ago) clearly show the Speaker is a legislative officer, Speaker Craddick's attorneys and others contend that he is, in fact, a statewide officer subject to impeachment provisions in the state constitution.

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