About the same time last week’s From the Right went to press, the Texas Supreme Court ruled on part of Governor Abbott’s Executive Order GA13; specifically the part of his order limiting the release of people being detained in jail.
Earlier, a lawsuit against the governor was filed by all 16 Harris County misdemeanor judges, the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, the Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, the Capital Area Private Defender Service and the NAACP. Their claim was that Abbott’s order to limit the number of people being released from jail was unconstitutional.
My column last week considered the executive order handed down by the governor, county commissioners, mayors and councils to be in violation of the Texas Constitution. I will not recap last week’s opinion piece, but I do believe I made my case in that the Texas Constitution can not be altered except by the Legislature and ratified by the voters.
So, what message does the unanimous ruling by the Texas Supreme Court really bring? Does it indirectly address the governor’s executive order and all the mini orders handed down by local authorities? Does it give us some insight as to the thoughts of the justices and does it confirm that the governor and other elected officials have overstepped their powers and are indeed in violation of the Texas and U.S. constitutions?
In the first sentence of the decision handed down by the high court, they rebuke the suspension of constitutionally protected rights using a natural disaster as their reasoning in stating, “The Constitution is not suspended when the government declares a state of emergency.”
Many of you probably remember during Katrina, when New Orleans authorities suspended the Second Amendment and went about seizing firearms from any and all citizens without probable cause. One would have thought that government officials would have listened and learned.
Having said that and considering that these executive orders are both unconstitutional and illegal, would it also be safe to says they are also non-enforceable and any elected official or law enforcement officer attempting to enforce those directives would indeed be in violation of the law themselves.
Sometimes as citizens, when our rights are being violated, it comes time to stand up and resist. I am absolutely not suggesting violence, please don’t get combative with your local law enforcement officer, chances are he is following orders and may not understand your rights as well as he should.
I would suggest exercising your First Amendment right to protest, gathering at city hall or the courthouse or even the Capitol, with or without mask and a tape measure to address your grievances. You may be arrested but sometimes that is how we correct wrongs. Rosa Parks was arrested for riding a bus and nothing could have been more right for her protest.
I’ll stop here with two famous statements, leaving you food for thought.
“In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.” — Mark Twain
“Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country; he should lisp the praise of liberty, and of those illustrious heroes and statesmen, who have wrought a revolution in her favor.” — Noah Webster, On the Education of Youth in America, 1788