Tue September 2, 2014 12:57 pm By Erica Grieder

The past few days have brought several bits of bad news for Greg Abbott. Two are court rulings that put him in a slightly awkward position. One is his own decision and ratchets up the potential fallout from the court rulings. First, the court rulings. On Thursday State District Judge John Dietz ruled that Texas's current system of school finance is unconstitutional any which way you look at it: that it imposes a de facto statewide property tax, that it doesn't provide adequate funding to accomplish the general diffusion of knowledge, and that it doesn't provide equitable access to the funding that is available. (The Tribune has links to Dietz' final judgment and findings of fact, as PDFs.) Then on Friday, US District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled that a key provision of last year's omnibus abortion bill--the requirement that facilities providing abortions must meet the standards of an ambulatory surgical center--amounts to an unconstitutional (and "brutally effective") restriction on access to legal abortion for women across Texas.

These rulings are awkward for Abbott for obvious reasons. Although he isn't the most ardent defender of Texas's luridly complicated school finance system or its lurch to the right on social issues, he is, as the attorney general, the person constitutionally deputized to defend state laws in court, a point that he tacitly conceded over the weekend by issuing a statement saying that the state would appeal Dietz's ruling, and filing a motion asking the 5th Circuit for permission to enforce the abortion law despite Yeakel's ruling. On the school finance front, especially, a certain lack of enthusiasm could be discerned. The state would, per the statement, defend the school finance law "just as it defends all laws enacted by the Legislature"--a comment that, in addition to conveying no particular animation on the attorney general's part, clearly points to the Lege as the culprit in the whole scenario.

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Tue September 2, 2014 10:04 am By Paul Burka

It is all but certain that Attorney General Greg Abbott will appeal Judge Dietz’s school finance ruling. It's classic Abbott. He has to win, even if he realizes that he is going to lose.

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Thu August 28, 2014 1:43 pm By Paul Burka

What should be required reading for Republicans? This story from Politico about how female voters see the party:

A detailed report commissioned by two major Republican groups — including one backed by Karl Rove — paints a dismal picture for Republicans, concluding female voters view the party as “intolerant,” “lacking in compassion” and “stuck in the past.” Women are “barely receptive” to Republicans’ policies, and the party does “especially poorly” with women in the Northeast and Midwest, according to an internal Crossroads GPS and American Action Network report obtained by POLITICO. It was presented to a small number of senior aides this month on Capitol Hill, according to multiple sources involved.

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Wed August 27, 2014 11:45 am By Paul Burka

A rather ridiculous piece of writing appeared recently in Forbes, under the byline of one Patrick Gleason, who allegedly covers the "intersection of state and federal policy and politics." Gleason attempts to make the point that the Texas House of Representatives is controlled by a "left-of-center speaker." This commentary has all the earmarks of a Michael Quinn Sullivan put-up job. Gleason writes,

"Conventional wisdom holds that Texas is a deep red state [that is] home to some of the most conservative politicians in the country. However, many outside the Lone Star State including most if not all Washington and New York based pundits are unaware that the House of Representatives is controlled by a left of center speaker, Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, who came into power by ousting his conservative predecessor with a coalition of Democrats and a handful of left of center Republicans."

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Wed August 27, 2014 9:41 am By Paul Burka

The governor has a first-class legal team, but some of its arguments concerning the indictment sound more like rhetoric than law.

Such as "an unconstitutional attack on Perry's rights"

And  ..."defies common sense"

And ..."a violation of the Texas and U.S. constitutions"

And ... "an improper attempt to criminalize politics"

And ... "based on state laws that are unconstitutional"

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