Views expressed in this blog are mine alone and are not intended to represent Williamson County policy nor intended as legal advice.
Sine Din for the Texas Legislative Special Session 2 occurred on September 2. With the end of that special session came several pieces of legislation that successfully made it to Governor Abbott’s desk to sign.
SB 1, the Republican election reform bill, that claims to make it harder to cheat and easier to vote while it strikes down Harris County’s 24-hour voting plan, outlaws drive-through voting and distribution of unsolicited vote by mail applications, allows poll watchers free movement, and adds vote by mail ID measures. This bill is what sent Democrats to DC, breaking quorum twice to stop passage. Unfortunately, enough Dems returned to Austin to allow a quorum.
SB 3, banning the teaching of critical race theory in schools, despite the fact it wasn’t being taught as a theory until college.
And last, but no means least, SB 8. The Heartbeat bill, banning abortion for any reason after 6 weeks. With the Supreme Court refusing to hear this bill, we can expect to see other states enacting similar legislation to essentially gut Roe v Wade.
Add to that HB 1927 from the regular session, which allows for unlicensed open carry of handguns, and we have ourselves a state that disregards the rights of women, increases our chances of getting shot, makes it harder to vote and easier to intimidate voters and disallows teachers from even talking about race.
Score one for the Conservatives.
The Heartbeat bill has pro-choice advocates and regular folks all over the entire nation up in arms. According to Pew Research, 59% of Americans feel abortion should be legal in most instances. The argument over abortion access has brought the concerns of a minority of Americans to the forefront and codified it into law. It’s also done nothing to stop abortion, instead only made it more difficult and dangerous to access.
Texas’ Heartbeat bill, with its convoluted wording that keeps state actors out of enforcement, makes it a challenge to legally counter. The website set up for non-state actors to take tips to sue providers and accessories has already been pulled from its first provider because of people overwhelming the site with fake reports. It’s moved to another provider and will likely see the same attacks drive it off that platform until people lose interest and it finally finds its place in some dark corner of the Internet.
Beyond the muddied judicial implications of this bill, the fact that Texas has banned abortion and done an end-run around Roe v Wade is deeply unsettling. Like most Americans, I believe in a woman’s right to choose.
I have the phrase Nolite te bastardes carborundorum tattooed on my arm. It’s from the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Roughly translated, it’s Latin for “don’t let the bastards grind you down”. It takes on new meaning now that Texas has taken the first steps to create Atwood’s fictional Gilead. Between the civilian vigilantism of SB 8 and the unlicensed open carry law, we have the set up for a disaster. SB 1 will make it harder to vote and thus change our legislative and executive branches.
Harder. But not impossible.
I call on every Democrat reading this to focus on municipal, county, and state races from now until November 2022. Find out who’s running in your city and county and commit today to a monthly donation to their campaign. Do the same for state races. Forget about Federal cases. As we’ve seen this legislative session, it’s who we have in office at the state level that will have the most direct impact on our lives. Recent contentious school board meetings over mask mandates prove the same for municipal races. County and judicial races are just as important. After all, when these Heartbeat bill cases do end up in Court, you’re going to want to know who will be hearing those cases.
But don’t stop at the county line. Find out who’s vulnerable across the state in Texas Senate and House races and do the same for as many of those candidates as you can. Find out who is running for state court and appellate court seats and support them.
Become a volunteer voter registrar and help get out the vote. Become a poll worker. Talk to everyone you know about how important these races are from local school board to governor. Implore them to vote in every election, no matter how difficult the state has made it to do so. Let them know the dates for upcoming elections so they can ask for work as soon as possible.
It’s up to each of us to do what we can when we can. The past year and a half have been terrible and draining, but we cannot let that stop us. Now more than ever we must remember that the only way we can make a difference is to act.
In the end, we must take a stand. Will we shrug our shoulders, complain on social media about mask mandates and the abortion bill or will we do the work – financial, personal, and social – to ensure that Texas doesn’t become Gilead in truth?
Nolite te bastardes carborundorum