87th LegislatureState HouseState SenateTexas Supreme Court Denies House Democrats’ Request to Stop Legislative Funding Veto

The Texas Supreme Court declined to block Gov. Abbott’s veto of legislative funding, saying that the dispute is between lawmakers and not the two branches of government.
August 9, 2021
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The Supreme Court of Texas (SCOTX) declined a request from Texas House Democrats to stop Gov. Greg Abbott’s veto of legislative funding contained in Article X of the state budget.

Pointing to the quorum break by Democrats to avoid passing the state Republican’s election bill and instead urge Congress to pass a federal election reform, the court stated that the dispute over legislative funding is not rooted in a dispute between the branches, but rather a political fight.

“While the interference by one branch of government with the effectual function of another raises concerns of separation of powers, the issue presented here is primarily one of differences among legislators,” said the court. “Although the Governor certainly seeks to advance legislation he favors, the majority of the members of the Legislature support the same legislation.”

Further, SCOTX indicated that aside from the issue being a political dispute, they would be reluctant to wade into any dispute between the branches.

“Courts have uniformly recognized that it is not their role to resolve disputes between the other two branches that those branches can resolve for themselves,” said the court.

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After the legislature broke quorum at the eleventh hour of the regular session to stop the GOP’s priority election bill, Abbott vetoed the legislative funding portion of the state budget in response.

House Democrats subsequently filed a petition for a writ of mandamus with SCOTX, claiming that Abbott’s veto was “an abuse of power, an act of legislative coercion and a threat to democracy.”

The court’s rejection of that petition may be one of the final nails in the coffin of the Democrats’ quorum break.

As noted in the SCOTX denial, the legislature is in another special session at the call of the governor, who has placed legislative funding on the agenda of items that can be passed.

Additionally, the governor and other state officials recently announced an additional month of funding for the legislative branch before the new budget — which currently lacks Article X funding — goes into effect on September 1.

“Relators again have the opportunity to vote to appropriate revenues to the legislative branch,” said the court.

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.