A newly filed lawsuit is challenging a gag order placed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on all those involved in the upcoming impeachment trial against Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The order, released earlier this week, states that “out-of court statements relating to the matters of this impeachment proceeding pose a serious and imminent threat to Warren Kenneth Paxton, Jr.’s, right to a fair trial of impeachment, the ability of the members of the court to remain fair and impartial, and to the fair administration of justice.”
The gag order applies to all members of the House of Representatives, parties to the impeachment trial, witnesses, as well as their attorneys and staff. Senators had previously been placed under a gag order last month.
A lawsuit filed against Patrick and the Senate on Friday in a Travis County court takes aim at the order, saying it violates freedom of speech.
“The Texas Constitution prohibits laws that abridge the freedom of speech or the right of the people to petition the government for a redress of grievances,” the suit reads. “Because Rule 10 and the Gag Order prohibits the public from communicating with their senators, state representative, or the Lieutenant Governor regarding the impeachment proceeding, they violate Article 1, § 8, and Article,1 § 27 of the Texas Constitution.”
Additionally, the lawsuit challenges the Senate’s rule barring State Sen. Angela Paxton (R–McKinney), his spouse, from voting on the impeachment.
“Despite the fact that every senator and the Lieutenant Governor arguably have a conflict ‘personal or private’ interest in the impeachment proceeding and/or biases for or against General Paxton, Rule 31 targets one individual, Senator Angela Paxton, and the voters who live in Senate District 8,” the suit argues.
The lawsuit is led by Conservative Republicans of Texas founder Dr. Steven Hotze, former State Rep. Molly White, Collin County resident Allesan Paige Streeter, and Houston radio personality Sam Malone.
The Senate’s impeachment trial is scheduled to begin on September 5 in the Texas Senate to determine whether Paxton will be removed from office.
As of publishing, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick did not respond to a request for comment.