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.
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 is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."