The Big Conversation
A lingering fight over a failed petition drive aimed at the city of Houston's equal rights ordinance boiled over this week as subpoenas issued to area pastors allied with the petition effort drew the ire of conservative leaders.
Among those registering displeasure was U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who was in Houston on Thursday to appear at a press conference to condemn the city's action in person. Attorney General and GOP nominee for governor Greg Abbott sent a letter on Wednesday urging the city to withdraw the subpoenas. GOP nominee for attorney general Ken Paxton also issued a statement on the matter.
In recent days, the city's leadership has tried to portray the matter as more of a misunderstanding than a real conflict. The specific request for sermons in the subpoenas was a mistake, they said — as reported by the Houston Chronicle's Katherine Driessen. The city would rework the subpoenas to take out mention of sermons, even as City Attorney David Feldman defended the request for communications from the pastors that might be relevant to the legal fight over the petition.
It did not appear, though, that the conflict would de-escalate anytime soon as those fighting the subpoenas are portraying the city's efforts in general as an unacceptable intrusion into the pastors' freedom of religion. Conservative leaders seemed confident that in the court of the public opinion, the city will find itself on the losing side.
"In most of the country, certainly in the South, this kind of subpoena is viewed by the public as an overreach," University of Akron professor John Green told the Chronicle. "It would generally be an unpopular move across the religious and political spectrum."
The Day Ahead
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Quote to Note
“Caesar has no jurisdiction over the pulpit.”
— U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, during a press conference in Houston protesting subpoenas requesting sermons and other documents from area pastors allied against the city's equal rights ordinance
Today in TribTalk
A gross overreach in Houston, by Matt Krause
Trib Events for the Calendar
• A Conversation With state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, and state Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, on Oct. 22 at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches
• A Conversation With Railroad Commission Candidates Steve Brown and Ryan Sitton, on Oct. 30 at The Austin Club in Austin
• A One-Day Symposium on the Impact of the Shale Boom on Oct. 31 at the University of Texas San Antonio
• A Live Post-Election TribCast, featuring Tribune editors and reporters on the election results, on Nov. 5 at The Austin Club
• A Conversation With Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick on Nov. 6 at The Austin Club