Texas’ attorney general needs a basic education in civics


Ken Paxton, Texas’ highly politicized and under-qualified attorney general, is trying to make himself relevant at the expense of educators and school children while he awaits trial on securities fraud charges.

His office is trying to convince the Texas Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling that found the state’s school finance system inadequate, unfair and unconstitutional. And, now he claims it was “inappropriate” for more than 600 school districts to go to court to challenge the Legislature’s failure. Never mind, in Paxton’s mind, the Texas Constitution and the separation of powers doctrine.

But what else should we expect from an attorney general who gives more weight to partisan politics than the Constitution in forming legal decisions and opinions? This is the same guy, remember, who tried to suggest – wrongly – that county clerks could disregard the U.S. Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling if they didn’t like it.

Paxton could use a good civics class in the public schools from which he voted to cut $5.4 billion in funding as a legislator in 2011. Those cuts were the final straw for the district judge who declared the finance system unconstitutional. Yet Paxton continues trying to undermine the schools he voted to shortchange, including local school districts in his home county that are plaintiffs in the case.

In a speech late last week, The Texas Tribune reported, Paxton complained that the state has been in and out of the courts for years over school funding. He blamedTexas’ educators, parents and other plaintiffs rather than state policymakers, such as himself, who persist in violating their constitutional responsibilties to adequately and equitably fund education.

“Opponents of Texas policy use the courts as legislative do-overs where they can seek to accomplish what they couldn’t accomplish during the (legislative) session,” he said.

School districts and their students are entitled to this “do-over” by no less an authority than the Texas Constitution. Too bad Texas voters don’t get a “do-over” of last year’s attorney general’s race.





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