June 29, 2015

Ken Paxton, AG Chicken Little, trying to have his cake and eat it on #gaymarriage

The Texas AG, also known in these quarters as Edward Jones for past and possibly future financial-legal difficulties, is a political panderer of the first class. Because his pandering tends in one direction only, if he's a chameleon on plaid, it's red (state) plaid only.

But, the Supreme Court's Friday gay marriage ruling is of a new level indeed.

Paxton blathers about religious liberty of county clerks to not issue marriage licenses, and then says, in essence:

"If you get sued, don't call me. Look under 'Lawyers' in the Yellow Pages."

You see, he, I presume quite carefully, phrased his input on the issue as a nonbinding legal opinion. In other words, it's the personal legalese thought of a man masquerading as Texas' attorney general.

Here's the key grafs:
In a nonbinding legal opinion, Paxton said religious freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment “may allow accommodation of their religious objections to issuing same-sex marriage licenses.” 
The clerks who balk at licensing gay marriage “may well face litigation and/or a fine,” Paxton warned. 
“Importantly, the strength of any particular religious accommodation claim depends on the particular facts of each case,” he concluded. 
“But,” he added in a press release, “numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs, in many cases on a pro-bono basis, and I will do everything I can from this office to be a public voice for those standing in defense of their rights.”
Yeah, potential "true believer" county clerks, like Juli Luke in Denton County? Paxton's got your back. Way back. All the way back in Austin. It's clear that if somebody sues you, you're on your own. That said, the state now has new license forms online.

At the same time:
1. Luke has now said she'll follow the law; and maybe she was just an ultra-worried clerk, not a "true believer.
2. Paxton has said that it would conceivably be an undue burden if everybody in a county clerk's office refused to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple but still did so to opposite-sex couples.

I call Paxton "Chicken Little." But, you can change that second word to something besides "Little."

Or, call him a "weasel" instead of "Chicken Little."

Just a few counties in the state are official "no" counties; and half of them are small enough that it would be a budget-buster if/when they get sued, if they try to fight it. And, speaking of, Paxton's rightfully getting flamed by equality advocates, non-bigots, and people who actually understand the Constitution of the United States and/or how the Supreme Court grinds judicial sausage.

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