One conservative lawmaker won’t be sworn in until January, but he has already been successful in defeating an unconstitutional state law.
Though the process has taken more than seven months, State Rep-Elect Briscoe Cain (R–Deer Park) secured victory in his lawsuit against the Texas Ethics Commission and its enforcement of an unconstitutional restriction on free speech that began during his campaign.
At the time, Cain was challenging Straus ally Wayne Smith, a 14-year incumbent, and wanted to release videos of action on the floor of the Texas House showing votes Smith had taken to increase his own pension, give drivers’ permits to illegal aliens, and fund diversity training over border security.
Even though the video was publicly available and produced with tax dollars, Cain could have faced a major fine from the TEC for using the video in his campaign due to state law banning the use of videos produced by the legislature in political advertisements.
Arguing that the law violated his right to free speech, Cain, a First Amendment lawyer known for defending the whistleblowers that exposed Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, filed suit against the TEC.
Though TEC Chairman Paul Hobby conceded that the law was unconstitutional and referred to it as “incumbent protection, first and last,” the TEC initially refused to settle the case and asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to defend them in court.
Paxton declined and the TEC was forced to hire outside lawyers who were ultimately unsuccessful in preserving the law against using recordings.
Cain was set to go to trial against the TEC on Monday but their attorneys instead agreed to the entry of a judgment striking down the unconstitutional law. The order, signed by Harris County District Judge Brent Gamble, reads:
“Texas Government Code section 306.005 is violative of the provisions of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 8 of the Texas Constitution, and the [TEC is] hereby permanently restrained and enjoined from administering or enforcing Texas Government Code Section 306.005.”
In addition to striking down the law, the Court ordered the TEC to reimburse Cain $20,743.08 for his attorneys’ fees.
Speaking on the matter in light of his victory, Cain said it was only the beginning and that citizens could expect more action from him when the legislature convenes in January.
“Texans deserve an open and transparent government,” said Cain. “The government belongs to the people, and I look forward to continuing to fight for their constitutional rights in the Texas House.”