After the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals took the power to prosecute election fraud out of the state attorney general’s hands, the Republican Party of Texas and a growing list of lawmakers are joining calls for them to reverse their decision.

In an 8-1 decision last month, the Court of Criminal Appeals—Texas’ highest court on criminal matters—said that a state law granting the attorney general the power to unilaterally prosecute election cases is unconstitutional, as the AG is not given the express authority to do so by the Texas Constitution.

Under the Texas Constitution, criminal prosecution is specifically assigned to local district and county attorneys. The attorney general had argued that a provision in the Constitution granting him the authority to “perform such other duties as may be required by law” allowed him to exercise prosecutorial authority granted by statute. The Court of Criminal Appeals disagreed, holding that clause did not “expressly permit” the statutory grant of power and, therefore, the separation of powers provision of the Constitution prohibited it.

Attorney General Ken Paxton vocally disagreed with the ruling, saying, “Soros-funded district attorneys will have sole power to decide whether election fraud has occurred in Texas.” He later asked the court to reconsider the decision.

Now he’s being joined in his efforts. 

This week, the Republican Party of Texas filed an amicus brief in the case Texas vs. Stephens.

“In one stroke, this Court has discarded over a century of Texas jurisprudence and carefully crafted legislation,” the party says in the brief.

A separate amicus brief has also been filed by 14 state senators, led by State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R–Houston).

“The amicus makes three points. First, there is no issue of separation of powers between the Attorney General and district attorneys. Second, not allowing the Attorney General to prosecute these cases dilutes our legislative authority. Third, the Texas Constitution requires the Legislature to write laws that detect and punish voter fraud,” said Bettencourt.

Last week, a similar amicus brief was filed by a host of statewide elected officials, congressmen, state senators, state representatives, and conservative leaders across the state of Texas, led by Houston-area activist Dr. Steve Hotze.

So far, the court has not indicated whether it will give the case a rehearing.

Should the court decide not to reconsider, some lawmakers—including State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington) are calling for a special session to address the issue. Tinderholt says he is in the process of drafting a constitutional amendment to specifically allow attorney general prosecutions for Election Code offenses.

“I am serious about protecting Texas elections and will continue to lead on this issue. Whether it be Democrat quorum breaks or ill-equipped Republican jurists, we must stand strong to protect the vote of every Texan,” said Tinderholt.

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens