Texas AG Must Testify on Approach to Abortion

Judge finds Ken Paxton failed to disclose repeated requests from plaintiffs
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2022 7:31 AM CDT
Subpoena Dodge Didn't Help Texas AG
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks to the media, Jan. 27, 2022, in Weslaco, Texas.   (Joel Martinez/The Monitor via AP, File)

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton must testify about his enforcement of the state's near-total abortion ban whether or not he got that subpoena left in his driveway as he fled, a court has ruled. A week after the Republican fled his McKinney home to avoid being served, a federal judge ruled Paxton must clarify whether his office will bring charges against those who help patients access out-of-state abortions. Though US District Judge Robert Pitman overruled the subpoena last week, he said Tuesday that he has since learned "Paxton failed to disclose Plaintiffs' repeated emails attempting to inquire as to whether Paxton could testify" in the abortion rights case, per the Texas Tribune.

Paxton said he feared for his family's safety because a "strange man" was lingering around his home. But the emails showed his office knew eight abortion funds in Texas intended to serve him with a subpoena in advance. Under threat of prosecution and penalties including prison time and $100,000 fines, the abortion funds that help patients access out-of-state abortions sued the state, arguing their work is protected by the First Amendment. They're seeking clarification that they won't be penalized if they continue to pay patients' travel expenses. And Pitman said Tuesday that only Paxton could give it.

"The Court will not sanction a scheme where Paxton repeatedly labels his threats of prosecution as real for the purposes of deterrence and as hypothetical for the purposes of judicial review," Pitman wrote, adding "it is challenging to square the idea that Paxton has time to give interviews threatening prosecutions but would be unduly burdened by explaining what he means to the very parties affected by his statements," per the Dallas Morning News. The judge said the two sides had a week to decide how and when Paxton would testify in the case. The attorney general, up for reelection in November, could still appeal the decision. (Read more ken paxton stories.)

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