You are here

Lone Star Project Report

Why Hasn’t Paxton Filed Voter ID Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court?

Is Paxton scamming supporters, did he lose his nerve, or is it all part of a plan to confuse and suppress Texas voters?

Last week, Texas AG Ken Paxton made a big show in the press by announcing that he would file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the ruling of the 5th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals that the Texas voter ID law is discriminatory in violation of the Voting Rights Act.  He bragged, “We’re going to take it to the highest court in the land and hopefully get this turned around.”
Yet now, more than a week later, Paxton hasn’t taken any action on the SCOTUS Appeal.  What gives?
Is Paxton scamming GOP activists?
Chances that the U.S. Supreme Court taking up the Texas case are not good, and the odds of him ultimately prevailing are worse.  The 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is the most conservative federal court in the nation, so it’s unlikely their finding of discrimination would be reversed.
Paxton’s advisors have likely informed him that a SCOTUS appeal is a longshot.  However, his political base is made up of the most extreme, divisive and irrational activists within the Texas Republican Party.  They drank the phony voter fraud Kool-Aid served up by Greg Abbott and other Republicans and likely won’t accept a rational legal decision.  Ken Paxton’s on the spot, so instead of shooting straight with his own supporters, he may be scamming them and stalling for time.
Is Paxton intentionally creating voter confusion through threats and delays?
The most likely reason for Paxton’s threat to appeal and his failure to follow through is to confuse voters and the media about what voting rules really will be followed in November.
By hitting the media talk show circuit and talking about a Supreme Court appeal, Paxton creates uncertainty.  At the same time, the state is issuing confusing and misleading documents implying that the overturned voter ID law remains unchanged.   
And Paxton has gone far beyond talking about filing an appeal with the Supreme Court.  He went on Fox News and made a series of threatening remarks vowing to prosecute voters who may misunderstand or make a mistake under the new voting procedures. 
Ken Paxton, Greg Abbott, and other Texas GOP leaders know that the most damaging aspect of their relentless insistence on a discriminatory voter ID law is that voters become uncertain about the rules and see the very act of voting as risky and intimidating. 

Paxton usually files first, talks later 

In the past Paxton has announced new lawsuits or appeals AFTER they’ve already been filed.  For example, when he announced a challenge to the federal government directive regarding school bathrooms—he issued a press release the day he filed the lawsuit.  The same was true in a petition filed against the EPA in June—Paxton issued a statement the day after the petition was filed in federal court.