Contempt-Free — Great news for Attorney General Ken Paxton: that contempt of court hearing of his has been canceled! Bad news for fans of Paxton: that means he caved on that dern same-sex marriage stuff he seemed determined to fight. The hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, was canceled after Paxton and a state health official said they would recognize a man’s same-sex partner on his death certificate. Previously, a U.S. District Judge had ordered them to appear and explain why they hadn’t done so already. “‘The state also agreed to issue new guidelines allowing same-sex couples to be listed as parents on a child’s birth certificate,’ said Neel Lane, the lawyer for a Conroe man who sued Texas to be listed as the husband on his male spouse’s death certificate,” according to the Austin American-Statesman, which also called it a “sweeping policy change.”
Which Lives Matter? — Texas did not mark the year that has passed since the Ferguson riots with the most positive of news (nor did Ferguson itself). Protestors stood outside the Arlington Police Department in response to Friday’s fatal shooting of nineteen-year-old Christian Taylor by a police officer, but the family “asked that any demonstrations remain peaceful,” reports the Associated Press. There are still plenty of questions about the events at hand, but Dan Solomon explains what we do know here. Yesterday, in order to combat “an audiotape on social media that ‘grossly misrepresents the facts and makes a false claim,'” the APD “made an unusually direct response to postings on social media and released the full recording of the communication between officers at the Classic Buick GMC dealership [where Taylor appears to be committing some unlawful acts] and dispatchers.” The audio demonstrates that the shooting took place two minutes after police made contact with Taylor. Despite the request from the APD, the FBI has declined to participate in the investigation, saying it has “full confidence in the ability” of the local department. In somewhat related news, “a Spring woman claims sheriff’s deputies violated constitutional protections by conducting a body cavity search on the concrete of a Texaco gas station parking lot during a routine traffic stop in late June,” according to the Houston Chronicle. The 21-year-old black woman was stopped for a traffic violation and allegedly forcibly searched after the police officer smelled marijuana (her lawyer says no pot was found). “Rebecca Robertson, legal and policy director of the ACLU of Texas, said a cavity search without a warrant was a ‘blatant’ violation of the Fourth Amendment, and that an orifice probe was the most invasive search possible.” The sheriff’s office said it couldn’t comment.
Southern Discomfort — Is our illustrious former governor throwing in the towel? Already? Yesterday, the National Journal reported that Rick Perry has stopped paying his staff in South Carolina, the first Southern primary state. “It is not clear if or when paychecks will start backing up for Perry’s team in South Carolina. [Katon Dawson, Perry’s South Carolina state director,] said that Perry staffers in the state “have been paid up to two weeks ago.” The reasoning for the fund-dropping, as the Washington Post later reported, is “because fundraising has dried up, while his cash-flush allied super PAC is preparing to expand its political operation to compensate for the campaign’s shortcoming.” What’s more, sources say Perry “has stopped paying his staff at the national headquarters in Austin as well as in the early caucus and primary states of Iowa [and] New Hampshire.” While literal fortunes are not so great for Perry, Texas’s version of a second cousin seems to be doing alright, and he’s coming to town for a visit. Like Donald Trump before him, on August 24 Jeb Bush will be visiting the border. Unlike Trump, Bush is unlikely to rouse the rabble. Instead, he’ll be feeding the wealthy! Luncheon plates start at $1,000 and cap out at $15,000, which will give you a pair of priority seating tickets, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The Southern Strategies — The group tasked with deciding what to do with the Confederate statues on the University of Texas-Austin campus have finally offered their recommendations. The report itself is about 34 pages long, but it boils down to this: either leave the statue in place but add what amounts to asterisk plaques offering some context, or move the statues, most likely to a museum or some other out-of-sight place. The Austin Chronicle has a nice breakdown of each option with a look at the pros and cons. “Adding the plaques would acknowledge that the university is aware of the controversy ‘while allowing the institution to put philosophical distance between UT Austin and honorees,’ [according to the report].” The other options “would allow the statues to remain in the university’s possession.” Oddly, no one suggested turning the statues into something like the city’s famed graffiti wall, which in many ways, the statues have already become. The task force included students, faculty members, staff members, and university alumni. According to the Chronicle, there were two public forums to “gather input from the community and heard from more than 3,100 individuals via an online submission form, emails, and phone calls.”