Monday, July 6, 2015

Frivolous attacks against Ken Paxton

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9

National Review reviews the charges:
Paxton determines that the “newly minted federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage can and should peaceably coexist with longstanding constitutional and statutory rights, including the rights to free exercise of religion and freedom of speech.” First addressing the rights of county clerks and their employees to abstain from taking part in the issuance of a same-sex marriage license, Paxton modestly concludes that “the strength of any claim under employment laws or the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts depends on the particular facts of each case.” (Among other things, his opinion reasonably indicates, the accommodation of religious objections may be more necessary when there are other employees in the office who will perform the task.) Ditto for justices of the peace and judges who would like to abstain from conducting same-sex marriage ceremonies: “the strength of any such claim depends on the particular facts.”

In yet further evidence of the mendacious intolerance of the Left, some 150 Texas attorneys (according to this article) have signed a letter threatening to file a complaint with the State Bar of Texas over Paxton’s opinion. The letter ridiculously misrepresents Paxton’s opinion as an “edict to encourage Texas clerks to violate a direct ruling of the United State Supreme Court” and claims that Paxton is thus violating his duty to uphold the U.S. Constitution. According to the article, a former state legislator has already filed a State Bar complaint against Paxton on the same baseless ground. (The article itself also falsely states that Paxton’s opinion “tell[s] Texas clerks they did not have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if it violated their religious beliefs.”)

The pursuit of same-sex marriage through the courts rather than the democratic processes has trampled or corrupted virtually every tenet of the rule of law. It’s beyond parody that the same movement that encouraged state attorneys general to violate their ethical duties by failing to defend state marriage laws would now complain about Paxton’s careful and nuanced advice to the state lieutenant governor.
 Mark Pulliam has more detail:
Paxton’s opinion was a mainstream overview of the principles governing religious accommodation in the government workplace, ultimately concluding that employees with bona fide religious objections to participating in same-sex marriages (a highly fact-specific inquiry) should assign such tasks to other employees who do not have such objections. Paxton did not advocate nullification of or civil disobedience to Obergefell, but merely explained the relevant legal authorities under the First Amendment, applicable employment laws, and state and federal Religious Freedom Restoration Acts.

Yet Paxton now faces a State Bar complaint alleging that he violated the rules of professional conduct by instructing county clerks to “break the law.” And approximately 150 lawyers signed a letter threatening to bring charges against Paxton if he doesn’t withdraw his legal opinion. Acknowledging the existence of religious objections to Obergefell, it seems, is tantamount to violating the Constitution and allegedly constitutes grounds for disbarment. This may be nothing but a publicity stunt, but it was widely (and credulously) reported in the local media in Texas.

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