The State of Texas: November 21, 2014
Hallelujah! Jesus has returned. Or as San Antonio Express-News’s Kolten Parker more accurately reports, “The Facebook page of Spurs Jesus, a homegrown fan who dresses as Jesus Christ and sits courtside at home games, has been resurrected.” After getting kicked off Facebook in late October, Spurs Jesus shared his gospel with anyone that would listen, including vice president general counsel for the Spurs. And lo, a miracle:
Gone National — In case you missed it, “President Obama on Thursday made good on his promise and said he will use his executive authority to grant millions of undocumented immigrants a work permit and a reprieve from deportation proceedings,” reports the Texas Tribune, with the total national estimate at about four million permits. Since our state has been ground zero of the immigration debate lately, and since our soon-to-depart governor is probably running for president, of course, he’s “said it’s a ‘very real possibility’ that Texas will sue if Obama acts as planned,” according to the Fort Worth Star-Tribune. Said Perry, “The cost to the people of the state of Texas is an extraordinary amount of money that this president is exacerbating with his announcement that he’s going to allow for this executive order.” And how will it help some people? It’s estimated that the grants would benefit “about 533,000 Texans.” Meanwhile, also-possible-presidential-candidate Senator Ted Cruz also got in the game, writing a Politico op-ed titled “Obama Is Not a Monarch,” which, while being a factually accurate statement, is an expected cry against the action. Looks like Texas may be as important as New Hamphire or Iowa during the next presidential race.
A Gay New Year — The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals In New Orleans will hear oral arguments in the case against Texas’s gay marriage ban on January 9. “Alhough the appeals court agreed in October to expedite the case at the request of one of the couples involved — Nicole Dimetman and Cleopatra De Leon of Austin, who are expecting their second child in March — the January argument date, with a ruling to come weeks or months later, could exclude the Texas case from an anticipated review by the U.S. Supreme Court,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. The Fifth Circuit has been reliably conservative in the past, but who knows? Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee have all upheld gay-marriage bans in the past month, although “four other circuit courts have ruled gay-marriage bans to be unconstitutional.” The Supreme Court recent passed up the opportunity to make a decision, but the all the recent decisions are “creating a split that often leads to a Supreme Court ruling so laws and rights can be applied evenly nationwide.”
Kill The Ill — That old Robin Williams joke about Texas “zapping retarded people,” doesn’t seem so humorous right now. “A Texas judge on Wednesday refused to postpone the scheduled execution of a convicted killer who suffers from mental illness and is set to face lethal injection on December 3,” reports the AFP. The man, Scott Panetti, isn’t just crazy-enough-to-get-off, he’s what Slate deemed “profoundly mentally ill. …Panetti, who has had schizophrenia for three decades, has won support for his case from groups like Mental Health America, psychiatrists, former judges and prosecutors and evangelical Christians.” The Panetti case has been going through the legal system—and has earned plenty of media attention—since his trial in 1995, where “Panetti acted as his own attorney, wore a cowboy outfit and tried to call as witnesses the pope, John F. Kennedy and Jesus.” The judge in this latest turn, however, “refused to give attorneys more time to reevaluate whether Panetti was criminally responsible.” Expect some sort of appeal since “in 1986 the US Supreme Court barred execution of the mentally ill as cruel and unusual punishment.”
Less Guilty — Earlier this year former Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño was sentenced for five years for embezzlement of drug money after he stood in front of the judge and said, “I did it. I’m not here to blame anybody or point fingers at anybody. I did it.” And now, “Treviño took the first step Wednesday toward possibly reducing his prison time, if lawyer Roberto Yzaguirre successfully argues the ex-sheriff’s case before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans,” reports the McAllen Monitor. Treviño’s lawyer, “argues that U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez failed to support her claims that the former sheriff, who pleaded guilty to money laundering, deserved more time in prison than the minimum recommended under federal guidelines.”