Texas Appeals Court Doesn’t Let Disgraced Politician Silence Citizens

by Michael Quinn Sullivan, Empower Texans

More than two years ago a powerful member of the Texas Senate used his clout to silence the radio ads of a pro-life group exposing his hypocrisy on their issues. Now, a Texas court says he cannot evade responsibility for his actions.

Former State Sen. Bob Deuell of Greenville was soundly defeated by Bob Hall in the 2014 Republican primary. During that race, Texas Right to Life aired radio ads critical of Deuell’s record. The senator’s campaign convinced radio stations to pull the ads leading up to the election and filed spurious complaints with the Texas Ethics Commission.

Texas Right to Life responded by filing suit against Deuell for interfering with their contract with the radio stations. He, in turn, sought to have the cases dismissed rather than answer questions about his actions. A district court in Harris County first rejected his motion, and now the First Court of Appeals has similarly ruled against him.

Since Deuell lost, some members of the chummy club of state senators have tried to pressure Right to Life to drop their suit. Doing so would have a chilling effect on future activism. Politicians cannot for a moment be allowed to use courts and state agencies to silence citizens.

Deuell should answer for his alleged attempt to muzzle the constitutional speech rights of  Texas Right to Life. The pro-life group should be congratulated for fighting to protect the speech rights of all Texans who are willing to shine a light on the governing record of crony politicians.

For too long the courts, and agencies like the TEC, have been used to bully citizens. It’s time instead for real ethics reform that sets citizens free and puts politicians under a magnifying glass.