The State of Texas: University of Texas Professors Sue Over Campus Carry
Plus: Texas tries to clog Obama’s transgender bathroom mandate, yet another attempt to regulate abortion clinics, and Texas doctors accused of sexually abusing patients avoid facing serious punishment.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Party unity is an illusion. This is democracy in action, and it’s messy sometimes.”
—Senator John Cornyn to reporters regarding the upcoming Republican National Convention, according to the Dallas Morning News. Cornyn also “revealed” that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was not his first choice for his party (surprise!).
Less than a month before Texas’s campus carry law goes into effect, three professors at the University of Texas at Austin are suing the school and state, according to the Texas Tribune. The lawsuit is the most serious challenge yet brought forward by opponents of campus carry—previous protests over campus carry were light on legalese, heavy on dildos and fart machines. The professors claim that allowing people to bring guns on public college campuses violates their First Amendment rights because it limits their academic freedom. In a fascinating twist, the professors also argue that campus carry also violates the Second Amendment. Yep, that’s the “right to bear arms” one. “The Second Amendment is not a one-way street,” the lawsuit says, according to the Tribune. “It starts with the proposition that a ‘well-regulated militia,’ (emphasis added), is necessary to the security of a free state. The Supreme Court has explained that ‘well-regulated’ means ‘imposition of proper discipline and training.'” The professors claim UT’s gun policy is not well-regulated. It’s an interesting legal argument, but, as the Tribune notes, the lawsuit probably won’t stand a chance in court considering other states have already implemented campus carry laws. The professors are requesting an injunction to block the law before it goes into effect on August 1. According to the Dallas Morning News, the professors noted in the lawsuit that August 1 will also mark the fiftieth anniversary of the day Charles Whitman shot and killed fourteen people from the university’s clock tower, an incident that is widely regarded as the country’s first-ever mass shooting.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Plug and Run
Texas is stepping up its efforts to clog President Barack Obama’s executive order mandating all public schools provide transgender friendly bathroom options. On Wednesday, Attorney General Ken Paxton tried to push forward a Texas-led lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s directive, asking a federal judge to issue a temporary nationwide injunction similar to the one a Texas judge issued to stop Obama’s executive order on immigration, which was recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. The lawsuit was filed last May, with Texas suing on behalf of tiny Harrold ISD, which had approved a policy a few days before the lawsuit was filed that requires students to use the bathrooms which align with the gender on their birth certificate. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Paxton wants the court to decide on the injunction before school starts in the fall. As it stands, states that violate Obama’s bathroom order risk losing federal funding for education. Paxton’s head must be swirling with transgender bathroom thoughts—just last week, he filed an opinion saying that Fort Worth ISD’s bathroom guidelines—ones that allow students to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity—violate state law.
Same Game, New Rules
Not long after Texas’s omnibus bill restricting abortion access was shot down by the Supreme Court, the state is again attempting to place more regulations on abortion clinics. This time, the Health and Human Services Commission is proposing rules that would require abortion providers to either cremate or bury fetal tissue. According to the Dallas Morning News, fetal remains are currently incinerated and disposed of in sanitary landfills, just like hospitals do with body parts. The new rules would ban such disposal methods for fetal remains. A Health Commission spokesperson told the Texas Tribune that the new rules are meant “to ensure Texas law maintains the highest standards of human dignity,” a sentiment supported by Governor Greg Abbott. It’s unclear how this will affect abortion providers beyond just having to jump through an additional hoop. But abortion clinics are still reeling after HB2, which shuttered more than half of Texas’s abortion clinics before the Supreme Court ruled last month that the law placed an “undue burden” on women seeking abortion services.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a shocking nationwide investigation into sexual abuse by doctors, showing that doctors who have sexually abused patients have been allowed to continue treating patients in nearly every state, including Texas. You can read a quick summary of the investigation’s findings over at the Austin American-Statesman, which is a sister paper of the Journal-Constitution. One of the more disturbing parts of the series was focused on Texas (you can read just that part here). According to the Journal-Constitution, seventeen patients said they were sexually abused by one Austin doctor, Philip Leonard. He was temporarily suspended by the Texas Medical Board as a result of the sexual abuse allegations, but he kept his license and was allowed to continue to practice without any restrictions after his suspension ended. The Journal-Constitution cites this Texas case as a prime example of how difficult it is to prosecute doctors accused of sexual abuse, and how easy it is for them to avoid punishment in a “broken system.”
WHAT WE’RE READING
There’s no database actively keeping track of police shootings in Texas, but there could be soon Texas Tribune
The state wants to euthanize a whole bunch of ducks in Odessa KOSA
You will finally be allowed to look at aerial photos of flood-related oil spills again El Paso Times
…but in Houston, you’re apparently not allowed to know which hazardous chemicals are in your neighborhood Houston Chronicle
Meet one of our strongest allies in the fight against Zika: bats KXAN