Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton is the lawyer for the State of Texas and is charged by the Texas Constitution to:
- defend the laws and the Constitution of the State of Texas
- represent the State in litigation
- approve public bond issues
To fulfill these responsibilities, the Office of the Attorney General serves as legal counsel to all boards and agencies of state government, issues legal opinions when requested by the Governor, heads of state agencies, and other officials and agencies as provided by Texas statutes.
The Texas AG sits as an ex-officio member of state committees and commissions and defends challenges to state laws and suits against both state agencies and individual employees of the State.
Many Texans look to the Office of the Attorney General for guidance with disputes and legal issues.
The agency receives hundreds of letters, phone calls, and visits each week about crime victims’ compensation, child support, abuse in nursing homes, possible consumer fraud, and other topics.
To find out more about the Texas Attorney General, visit the official website at https://texasattorneygeneral.gov/.
AG Paxton Issues Legal Guidance on School Reopening
AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton today issued guidance on the opening of local schools for the upcoming school year, during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, responding to a request from Stephenville Mayor Doug Svien.
While playing an important role in protecting the health of school children and employees, local health authorities may not issue sweeping orders closing schools for the sole purpose of preventing future COVID-19 infections.
Rather, their role is limited by statute to addressing specific, actual outbreaks of disease. School officials, both public and private, are the appropriate ones to decide whether, when, and how to open school.
“Education of our children is an essential Texas value and there is no current statewide order prohibiting any school from opening,” said Attorney General Paxton. “While local health authorities may possess some authority to close schools in limited circumstances, they may not issue blanket orders closing all schools on a purely preventative basis. That decision rightfully remains with school system leaders.”
Read a copy of the letter here.
AG Paxton Leads 21 States in Amicus Brief Defending Religious Liberty
AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson led 21 states in an amicus brief filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit defending the religious liberty of public employees.
Joe Kennedy coached football at Bremerton High School until he was suspended midway through the season for praying silently on the field after each game.
The school district prohibited Kennedy from coaching out of baseless fear that his individual prayers violated the Establishment Clause.
Last year, when the case was first appealed to the United States Supreme Court, Justice Alito—joined by Justices Thomas, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh—expressed concern that the lower courts had improperly read the Establishment Clause to require school control over virtually everything an employee does, even when off-duty.
After the district court again ruled for the school district, Coach Kennedy’s case is once again before the Ninth Circuit. Texas’s amicus brief argues in defense of the religious liberty guaranteed to Coach Kennedy and all public employees by the First Amendment.
“By preventing Coach Kennedy from exercising his religious freedom, the district has demonstrated constitutionally impermissible hostility toward religion. In fact, the district’s shifting demands show a determination to infringe on his First Amendment right to religious exercise,” said Attorney General Paxton. “An unfounded fear that the school district might be seen as endorsing religion is no justification for prohibiting a man from honoring his deeply-held beliefs. Religious expression and public service can and must coexist.”
Denying public employees the right to engage in private religious expression, such as kneeling in silent prayer for less than a minute, also directly threatens religious diversity.
By forcing employees to forgo their constitutionally protected right to religious liberty, public institutions ensure that their employees must either hide their beliefs entirely or hold no religious beliefs at all.
Read a copy of the amicus brief here.
Request for Opinion
Official Request RQ-0366-KP
Questions relating to governance of a non-profit entity created by and affiliated with a housing authority
Monday, July 27, 2020
The Honorable J.M. Lozano
Chair, House Committee on Environmental Regulation
Texas House of Representatives
Post Office Box 2910
Austin, Texas 78768-2910
AG Paxton Warns Texans of Price Gouging in Wake of Hurricane Hanna
AUSTIN – Following the severe weather and flooding in South Texas during Hurricane Hanna, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today warned that state law prohibits price gouging in the wake of a declared disaster.
Under state law, once the governor issues a declaration, vendors are prohibited from charging exorbitant prices for necessities such as drinking water, food, batteries, generators, towing, clothing, medical supplies, lodging, repair work, and fuel during and after the crisis.
“Natural disasters can pull communities together. Unfortunately, they can also pull in unscrupulous individuals looking to scam vulnerable citizens,” said Attorney General Paxton. “As our communities work to rebuild and recover, my office will continue to aggressively prevent disaster scams and stands ready to prosecute any price-gouger who takes advantage of Texans.”
Price gouging is illegal, and a disaster declaration triggers stiffer penalties under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for the counties of Aransas, Bee, Bexar, Brazoria, Brooks, Calhoun, Cameron, Dimmit, Duval, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Harris, Hidalgo, Jackson, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg, La Salle, Live Oak, Matagorda, McMullen, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Starr, Victoria, Webb, Wharton, Willacy, and Zapata.
Texans in affected counties who believe they have encountered price gouging should call the Office of the Attorney General’s toll-free complaint line at (800) 621-0508 or file a complaint online at https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/consumer-protection/file-consumer-complaint.
AG Paxton Applauds Court for Protecting Baby Girl’s Right to Life
AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton today applauded the Second Court of Appeals for reversing a lower court decision denying a temporary injunction and protecting baby T.L.’s life.
In November 2019, Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas denied the baby’s mother’s request to continue life-sustaining treatment without first providing due process of law, directly violating her wishes and her daughter’s right to life.
“I wholeheartedly commend the court for protecting this baby girl’s life and allowing her family members to fight for their daughter. Life is the first constitutionally protected interest, and this innocent baby girl must be afforded the rights she deserves,” said Attorney General Paxton. “Patients must be heard and justly represented when it comes to determining their medical treatment, especially when their lives are at risk.”
Read a copy of the opinion here.
AG Paxton Files Amicus Brief in Defense of Minnesota’s Ballot Order Statute
AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton today filed a friend-of-the-court brief in defense of Minnesota’s ballot order statute, which places candidates on the ballot based on party affiliation, with the party netting the lowest number of votes in the preceding election listed first.
Eighteen other states have statutes that order candidates based on party affiliation, and Texas’s statute was upheld just two weeks ago.
“Like other ballot order statutes that recently have been challenged, the Minnesota ballot order statute is lawful. Three federal judges in separate cases have already concluded that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee challenges to ballot order statutes in other states present non-justiciable political questions. This case is merely a politicized attempt to replace laws passed by democratically elected representatives with injunctions issued by unelected judges,” said Attorney General Paxton. “Legitimate election laws must be preserved and properly followed to ensure the smooth, safe, and free operation of our democratic process.”
Read a copy of the amicus brief here.