Texas Joins 14-State Coalition In Defense Of Religious Liberty

Staff Report

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 Urges Court to Protect Baby Girl’s Right to Life

AUSTIN — On behalf of Attorney General Ken Paxton and Governor Greg Abbott, Texas Solicitor General Kyle Hawkins today argued before the Second Court of Appeals, fighting to protect baby T.L.’s life and halt a Texas law that allows physicians, along with an ethics or medical committee, to cease life-sustaining treatment against a patient or caregiver’s wishes.

I urge the court to protect the life of this baby girl while her family members are given the opportunity to tell their side of the story and fight for their daughter. Patients must be heard and justly represented when it comes to determining their medical treatment, especially when their life is at risk,” said Attorney General Paxton. “Life is the first constitutionally protected interest, and this case is a matter of life and death for a defenseless child. This baby girl, like all Texans, must be afforded the rights she deserves.

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.

The family seeks an order from the court that will prevent the hospital from ignoring their wishes and ending their daughter’s life.

AG Paxton Files Brief Supporting Fifth Circuit’s Obamacare Decision

AUSTIN — Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a brief with the United States Supreme Court today, arguing that the Fifth Circuit’s decision to declare Obamacare’s individual mandate unconstitutional and remand the case to the district court does not require review by the Supreme Court at this time.

The brief also argues the U.S. House of Representatives, which petitioned the Supreme Court to review the decision, lacks standing to request such a review.

The Fifth Circuit’s opinion declaring the individual mandate unconstitutional is a straightforward application of existing U.S. Supreme Court precedent. The Fifth Circuit has ordered this case to return to district court to determine which, if any, provisions of Obamacare are still valid notwithstanding the unconstitutional mandate. That is where this case belongs at this time,” said Attorney General Paxton. “I applaud the Fifth Circuit for upholding the core principle that the federal government cannot order private citizens to purchase subpar insurance that they don’t want. I look forward to demonstrating exactly how this law has failed in district court.

When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Obamacare in 2012, a majority of the justices agreed that Obamacare’s individual mandate was constitutional only because its accompanying tax penalty could justify forcing individuals to purchase health insurance under Congress’ taxing power.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 removed the penalty, meaning Obamacare’s intrusive individual mandate cannot be preserved as a tax and rendering it unlawful.

To view a copy of today’s brief, click here.

AG Paxton Joins 14-State Coalition in Defense of Religious Liberty

AUSTIN — Attorney General Ken Paxton and 13 other states filed a friend-of-the-court brief in defense of religious liberty after a Colorado district court determined that privately owned businesses can be fined for declining to provide services that violate their religious beliefs.

The U.S. Constitution prohibits governments from forcing individuals to violate their religious beliefs.

Colorado currently has an unconstitutional law barring any place of public accommodation from refusing services because of sexual orientation or publishing notice of intent to refuse services because of sexual orientation, which directly violates the First Amendment.

In this case, Lorie Smith, the owner and sole employee of 303 Creative LLC, which provides custom graphic and website design services, challenged the law prohibiting her from refusing to create custom websites that violate her religious beliefs.

The State of Colorado has repeatedly persecuted people of faith who wish only to conduct their business in line with their sincerely-held beliefs. Ms. Smith has not committed any illegal act, and the district court’s decision should be immediately reversed,” said Attorney General Paxton. “The Constitution requires the government to respect the religious beliefs of its citizens, but the rigid secular orthodoxy of the Colorado elites has been allowed to trample on this specifically protected freedom and destroy people’s livelihood. Religious persecution of innocent people must end.

This case is strikingly similar to that of Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, who faced charges for refusing to create a custom cake that violated his religious beliefs.

The U.S. Supreme Court resoundingly ruled in Mr. Phillips’ favor and pointed out that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had disparaged Phillips’ religious beliefs.

To view a copy of the amicus brief, click here.

AG Paxton Defends Diverse Placement and Care for Texas Foster Children

AUSTIN — Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a motion for summary judgment in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, urging the court to declare that an Obama-era rule violates the Constitution, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

In the filing, Attorney General Paxton opposes a regulation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Known as Section 75.300, the rule deters certain faith-based organizations, including the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, from participating in Texas’ foster care system.

And it threatens the federal funding of states that partner with those organizations. Both limiting Texas’ foster care network and reducing federal funding harm Texas children.

Texas partners with a vast number of child-placing agencies, and we cannot serve the best interest of our children when the government unlawfully excludes many of those organizations. To refuse those with the capability and expertise to aid our children, based solely on their religious beliefs, will not only diminish the number of child-placement agencies available, it is an egregious violation of religious freedom,” said Attorney General Paxton. “Cooperation between states and faith-based groups is vital to ensuring that children in our foster care system are provided with the best care available and the safe and loving home they deserve.

In 2017, Texas enacted House Bill 3859, which protects the religious liberty of child-placing agencies and prohibits the State from granting or denying funding to such organizations based on their religious beliefs.

It prohibits government entities from discriminating or taking adverse action against a child-placing agency if that provider declines to provide, facilitate, or refer a person for child welfare services that conflict with the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs.

Texas law also explicitly requires that, if a faith-based child welfare organization declines to provide a particular service based on their religious beliefs, a secondary child welfare service provider is available.

To view a copy of the filing, click here.

Request for Opinion

Official Request RQ-0330-KP
Application of the United States Supreme Court’s Janus decision to payroll deductions of public union members.

Date Received
January 17, 2019

Official Requestor
The Honorable Briscoe Cain
Chair, House Select Committee on Driver’s License Issuance & Renewal
Texas House of Representatives
Post Office Box 2910
Austin, Texas 78768-2910

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