while you were sleeping...
...Craddick released his legal rationale for last night's rulings:
May 26, 2007
The following is being entered into the House Journal by Speaker Tom Craddick:
The office of Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives is the only constitutionally-mandated officer of the Texas House by virtue of Article 3, Section 9 of the Texas Constitution. All other officers of the House, including committee chairs, are chosen by rule. The Speaker occupies a unique position in this state as an officeholder in his capacity as a state representative from a particular district of this state and also as the constitutional officeholder of the position of Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.
The Texas Constitution speaks to the exclusive grounds for the removal of officeholders. Article 16, Section 5 is applicable to all officeholders and is automatic upon conviction for bribery. Article 3, Section 11 is specific to the legislature, and authorizes each house of the legislature to expel members for offenses upon a two-thirds vote. Article 3, Section 8 vests procedural authority upon each house to judge election contests and qualifications to hold office as a state legislator.
Furthermore, a unique provision of the Texas Constitution, Article 15, Section 7, mandates that the legislature can only provide for the trial and removal from office of any officer of this State by enactment of a law if a mode for a state officer’s removal has not otherwise been specifically provided for in the Texas Constitution.
This unambiguous provision of the Texas Constitution overrides any supposed merit to the suggestion that a process to remove an officer of this State can be created by one house of the legislature during a legislative session and used to remove that officer from office. Because Article 15, Section 7 specifically forbids the result that Representatives Smith, Hill and Dunnam seek to accomplish by motion, their reliance on precedent from sources outside of the Rules of this House, the Texas Constitution and the laws of this state is misplaced and violates the specific substantive provisions and procedural guarantees of the Texas Constitution.
Additionally, and independent of the foregoing, the House Rules do not have a provision for members to remove a Speaker during mid-session for the reason that Article 3, Section 9 of the Texas Constitution governs the timing and authority for the election of the Speaker. A motion to amend the rules to provide for electing a Speaker by a new and different method than that set out in the Texas Constitution and is, in essence, an attempt to amend the Texas Constitution by the passage of a motion in one house. Amendments to the Texas Constitution can only come about by the passage by two-thirds vote in both houses of the proposed amendment which must then receive voter approval in an election called for that purpose.
Given that the motion being proposed is not authorized by law, and furthermore conflicts with applicable provisions of the Texas Constitution, the effect of passage of such a motion would be invalid. As a matter of public policy, for a Speaker to recognize a member for such a motion would not only be disruptive of the legitimate business on behalf of the citizens of this state that the House should instead be conducting, but it also would undermine the institution of the office of the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.
Therefore, pursuant to my authority under Rule 5, Section 24 of the House Rules, I denied the requests to be recognized.
Quorum Report says that Rep. Coleman planned to file a complaint about Wilson (the new assistant parliamentarian)'s ethics fines with the Ethics Commission overnight. Quorum Report is also carrying a copy of a counterargument on Craddick's authority on this matter. I don't have a password, so I can access neither that, nor Denise Davis' resignation letter.
Pink Dome has some hilarious visual aids.
What I don't get is how Craddick doesn't see that his actions are basically political suicide. I know he's power-hungry, and clearly he and Nadine love the Speaker's apartment, but this looks like a desparate attempt to cling to power from every direction. He'll come out of this looking like a despot. After this, there's little chance he'll be re-elected as Speaker in 2009. He'll be lucky to make it past next week.
At this point, all they can do is refuse to pass the budget, which would force a special session, which no one wants. If I were the insurgency, I would line up all of my supporters at the mike and have each one raise points of order on whether the Speaker is a dictator, whether the Speaker is subject to checks and balances, and whether the Speaker is subject to the rules. It wouldn't change anything, but it would make a point. And it would show how many people are opposed to Craddick.
Anyway, things this morning are calmer. At the moment, the Travis county delegation is doing a resolution in memory of Clifford Antone and there are the rest of the honorary resolutions. We'll see what happens later today.