87th LegislatureElections 2022JudicialPaxton Asks Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to Revisit Decision Axing His Power to Prosecute Election Crimes

Attorney General Ken Paxton said the decision “diminishes our democracy and misconstrues the Texas Constitution.”
January 5, 2022
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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a motion in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals asking the court to reconsider its decision to remove his authority to prosecute violations of election law.

The court, which is made up of nine Republican judges, ruled in an 8 to 1 decision that the law conferring this power to the attorney general violates the separation of powers. 

“The Court’s decision to suddenly remove our authority to prosecute election fraud can only empower dishonest campaigns to silence voters across the state,” Paxton stated in a news release

“This decision is not only wrong on legal grounds, but it has the effect of giving district and county attorneys virtually unlimited discretion to not bring election law prosecutions. Last year’s election cycle shows us that officials in our most problematic counties will simply let election fraud run rampant. I will continue to oppose this decision that diminishes our democracy and misconstrues the Texas Constitution.”

Paxton contended that the Texas Supreme Court has already spoken on this issue and determined the statute to be valid. He added that the Texas legislature granted the attorney general this privilege seven decades ago.

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The ruling undermined the Election Integrity Protection Act of 2021, which the legislature designed with the attorney general’s involvement in mind. The act was a priority of the GOP and was intended to address concerns about election security arising from the 2020 presidential contest.

The Court of Criminal Appeals has the final word in adult criminal matters in Texas. The ruling in question was the culmination of a case that began when Paxton convened a grand jury to charge the sheriff of Jefferson County, Zena Stephens, with criminal offenses related to election law.

Paxton is facing several opponents in the Republican primary for attorney general. Primary day is March 1.

A copy of Paxton’s motion for a rehearing can be found below.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan. He has coached high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.