Paxton Deputy: Words in the Law Matter, Except When They Don’t

Jeff Mateer, who was recently hired as a top deputy of indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, doesn’t believe there is such a thing as church-state separation. When he has spoken at schools or colleges, he has offered $100 to anyone who can point to where “separation of church and state” is mentioned in the Constitution.

“It’s not there,” he likes to say.

It’s odd, then, that when it comes to the law that required Paxton to offer to the general public the opportunity to apply for Mateer’s job, Mateer wants you to stop focusing so much on the letter of the law.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Paxton was required by state law to post Mateer’s position publicly if outside candidates were under consideration. Paxton didn’t post Mateer’s position nor did he publicly post the position of his new communications director Marc Rylander, who was previously a pastor at Paxton’s church in Plano.

But Mateer says that’s all cool. From the DMN article:

Mateer told The News that Paxton’s office believes the law allows the attorney general to appoint “people who are at the level of deputy and above.”

While… Read More

New Texas AG’s Office Appointee Rejects Church-State Separation

“I’ll hold up my hundred-dollar bill and say, ‘for the first student who can cite me the provision in the Constitution that guarantees the separation of church and state verbatim, I’ll give this hundred dollar bill. … It’s not there. … The protections of the First Amendment protect us from government, not to cause government to persecute us because of our religious beliefs.”

That’s Jeff Mateer, the newly appointed First Assistant Attorney General of Texas. Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Mateer’s appointment to the post on Wednesday. Mateer replaces Chip Roy, who has joined a super PAC supporting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign.

It’s not surprising that Paxton, who won election with the support of religious-right groups and activists, would appoint a foot soldier in the culture wars who rejects the key constitutional principle of separation of church and state (and employs the persecution rhetoric common on the religious right now). Mateer had been serving as general counsel for First Liberty Institute, a Plano-based litigation group that advances the religious right’s agenda in the courts.

The lawyers at First Liberty Institute (formerly Free Market Foundation and then Liberty Institute), are the equivalent of political ambulance chasers. If you’re a social conservative who feels persecuted because,… Read More

Tonight at an event featuring the embattled Texas attorney general, a senior counsel for a prominent religious-right group warned that religious war is coming to America. Here’s a tweet from Houston Chronicle reporter Lauren McGaughy, who is covering the event:

. @1stliberty‘s Dys predicting literal war btwn adherents to Judeo-Christian values and their enemies. Tells believers to “religify” #txlege

— Lauren McGaughy (@lmcgaughy) September 30, 2015

Dys predicting literal war btwn adherents to Judeo-Christian values and their enemies. Tells believers to “religify”

McGaughy is referring to Jeremy Dys, a senior counsel for Liberty Institute, a Plano-based group that claims its mission is “to defend and restore religious liberty across America.” A subsequent tweet from McGaughy quotes Dys as saying that “we have suddenly set up for all of us a clash of worldviews.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is under indictment in Texas for securities fraud, spoke after Dys. The event — “The Texas Response: Pastors, Marriage, & Religious Freedom!” — is sponsored by Texas Values, the Austin-based lobby group spinoff of the Liberty Institute. It’s unclear at this point whether Paxton repudiated the prediction… Read More

Days after the U.S.  Supreme Court ruled that gay and lesbian couples have the freedom to marry, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a formal opinion claiming that public officials could use their religious beliefs as an excuse for refusing to issue marriage licenses to or conduct weddings for same-sex couples. The Plano-based, religious-right group Liberty Institute also rushed forward with its lawyers to defend the “religious liberty” of public officials refusing to do their taxpayer-funded jobs.

All of those reckless efforts to subvert the Supreme Court’s ruling just cost taxpayers in Hood County southwest of Fort Worth nearly $44,000.

On Monday Hood County Commissioners agreed to pay the attorney fees — $43,872.10 — for a gay couple who sued after the county clerk, Katie Lang, repeatedly refused to issue them a marriage license. She claimed that issuing the license would offend her religious beliefs. Liberty Institute’s lawyers defended her and even used the case as a fundraising tool.

Now taxpayers in Hood County have to pay the penalty for such irresponsibility. They have Lang, Paxton and Liberty Institute to thank for that. Maybe someone should ask Liberty Institute to cover the cost with the money they raised off the case.… Read More

by Dan Quinn

The Texas-based, religious-right group Liberty Institute has hit a repulsive new low: equating the firing of an anti-gay sports commentator/politician in the United States with the January massacre of 17 people by Islamic extremists in France.

In a series of tweets this month, Liberty Institute has been claiming that sports commentator Craig James of Texas and two other people have lost their jobs because of their Christian beliefs. The latest such tweet was this morning:

It is tyranny: freedom for thee only if you agree with me. http://t.co/LpFKq5aTgv #JeSuisBob #JeSuisCraigJames #JeSuisEricWalsh

— Liberty Institute (@advanceliberty) February 23, 2015

It is tyranny: freedom for thee only if you agree with me. http://bit.ly/1zWz7Ag #JeSuisBob #JeSuisCraigJames #JeSuisEricWalsh

First, the claims about why these individuals lost their jobs is in dispute. But in any case, note that each of the tweets includes hashtags that play off #JeSuisCharlieHebdo, a hashtag that went viral after the massacre at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The Paris attacks also included murders at a Kosher deli and of a policewoman near a Jewish school. (A shrine in memory of the 17 victims of the terrorist attacks has been vandalized in recent weeks.)

You might… Read More

Texas Freedom Network

Secretary of State David Whitley began his tenure by attacking the rights of eligible voters. Today, we joined other organizations in asking Dem senators to oppose any last-minute attempts to confirm Whitley. Read the letter: bit.ly/2Qjd4jV #PurgeWhitley #txlege pic.twitter.com/oG4P…