Monday, November 16, 2020

#TXLEGE: Overton Window moving on Paxton impeachment

"Therefore by their fruits you will know them."
Matthew 7:20

Ross Ramsey this morning:
In a political environment like Washington, D.C., the kinds of legal perils encircling Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton might be grounds for firing, impeachment or congressional investigation.


Because state lawmakers have gone through two full legislative sessions with an indicted attorney general, it doesn’t seem likely that they would consider impeachment. Paxton is hardly the first elected official in Texas to continue to serve while indicted. He’s not even the first attorney general in modern times: Jim Mattox, who served from 1983-91, was indicted and acquitted on commercial bribery charges early in his first term. Legislators let it play out in the courts. Mattox was reelected once and later ran unsuccessfully for governor and the U.S. Senate.

Impeaching someone in Texas isn’t like impeaching someone in Washington, D.C. It’s rarer, for one thing, and it has immediate consequences in a way that the federal system does not. The person being impeached is removed from office while the case is pending in Texas; in the federal system, they remain in office unless convicted by the Senate.

So what does that mean here? If a state official was impeached by the Texas House, they would be removed from office until after the Senate had held a trial and judged the House’s impeachment. It’s right there in the Texas Constitution: “All officers against whom articles of impeachment may be preferred shall be suspended from the exercise of the duties of their office, during the pendency of such impeachment. The governor may make a provisional appointment to fill the vacancy, occasioned by the suspension of an officer until the decision on the impeachment.”
Honestly, what's interesting isn't (yet) the merits or demerits of impeaching Paxton [Note: We're currently ambivalent]. It's about the fact that, by bringing this possibility into serious discussion, the Texas Tribune has changed the macro-environment. Expect more of this.

Bottom Line: This topic isn't going away anytime soon.

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