In March, a district judge, Amy Clark Meachum of Travis County, ordered a halt to all such investigations pending trial. She found that the governor’s order was passed improperly and violated the state constitution. An appeals court allowed the district judge’s interim injunction to remain in effect.
Mr. Abbott and Mr. Paxton took the case to the Texas Supreme Court, arguing that the investigations, in and of themselves, were not “injury” and that the district court had exceeded its authority in making them. preventing. All nine members of the state’s highest court are Republicans; five were nominated by Mr. Abbott.
The court found that Mr. Abbott and Mr. Paxton could not in fact demand certain types of investigations from the Department of Family and Protective Services, and that the agency had discretion to conduct its investigations into the abuse. “Neither the governor nor the attorney general has the legal authority to directly review” the department’s investigative decisions, wrote Judge Jimmy Blacklock, who was appointed by Mr Abbott in 2018.
“Just as the governor does not have the power to issue a binding ‘directive’ to the DFPS, the appeals court does not have the power to grant statewide relief to nonparties. “wrote Judge Blacklock.
Mr. Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys were encouraged by some aspects of the decision. “The court rejected the state’s arguments to get rid of the case entirely,” said Karen Loewy, senior attorney at Lambda Legal, which represented the plaintiffs with the American Civil Liberties Union.
The court clarified, she said, that if statewide investigations by the protective services agency were allowed to resume, “any investigation similar” to that of its clients “would cause the same harm irreparable” and that “the appropriate thing to do would be to exercise whatever discretion they had before the governor got involved.
The appeals court will now consider arguments from state officials and plaintiffs regarding Judge Meachum’s decision. A trial, originally scheduled for July, is now on hold pending those arguments.