Press Release

House Democrats, Legislative Caucuses, State Employees, Texas AFL-CIO Petition Supreme Court to Protect Separation of Powers, Stop Abbott’s Veto of Legislature

(AUSTIN) – Texas Democratic state representatives, the Texas AFL-CIO, state employees and several legislative caucuses filed a petition with the Texas Supreme Court today seeking an immediate order that would overturn Gov. Greg Abbott’s unconstitutional veto of funding for the legislative branch. A copy of the petition can be found here.

The petition for a writ of mandamus asks the Texas Supreme Court to halt the execution of the governor’s veto. The House Democratic Caucus is joined by the Texas AFL-CIO, several state employees, the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, and the Texas Legislative Study Group in the court filing.

“Abbott’s veto is an abuse of power, an act of legislative coercion and a threat to democracy, the result of which is clear and immediate harm to the people of Texas, said Chris Turner, (D – Grand Prairie), Chair of the Texas House Democratic Caucus.  “The Legislature is a co-equal branch of government and the separation of powers is enshrined in our state constitution.  The governor doesn’t get to simply cancel another branch of government when he doesn’t get his way.”  

With the veto, the livelihoods of more than 2,100 full-time state employees working for the Legislative Branch are presently at risk. Gov. Abbott’s veto will cause Texans to lose constituent services and prevent pressing work that needs to get done – like redistricting and responding to the energy crisis – from being able to be carried out by legislative staff.

“In the union movement, we say an injury to one is an injury to all,” said Rick Levy, President of the Texas AFL-CIO. “Gov. Abbott’s bogus power grab has created one mighty large Texas injury involving 2,000 victims ranging from lawmakers themselves to legislative staffs to an infrastructure that makes law-writing possible. These include members of the Texas State Employees Union, an affiliate of the Texas AFL-CIO. All the support staffers, whether Democratic, Republican or strictly nonpartisan, have several things in common: They are bystanders in this brawl, their livelihoods are now in jeopardy, and they have reason to wonder whether they will be able to pay the bills and support their families after Sept 1. The Texas AFL-CIO joins in this lawsuit because Gov. Abbott’s ambition and obsession with control have caused real harm to real working families.”

In the petition, plaintiffs are asking the Texas Supreme Court to take immediate action in the case, with a request for oral arguments to begin by mid-July. The Texas lawmakers are represented by Chad Dunn of Brazil & Dunn and Ross Peavey and Kevin Vickers of Brady & Peavey.  The Texas AFL-CIO and individual staff are represented by Jim Dunnam of Dunnam & Dunnam and lawyers at Democracy Forward.

“Gov. Abbott’s attempt to eliminate the legislative branch is unconstitutional and represents an extraordinary and brazen attack on all Texans,” said Democracy Forward President and CEO Skye Perryman. “When democracy is threatened by those who would abuse their power, Democracy Forward will use the law to fight back. Today we are honored to represent the Texas AFL-CIO and individual staff members – who alongside lawmakers are challenging this unprecedented and unlawful action that harms the people of Texas and is antithetical to the promise of democracy.”