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The Brief: Texas Files 40th Lawsuit Against Obama Administration

In the latest legal action taken against the current president, Texas was one of 11 states moving to stop a directive for public school districts to let transgender students use the bathroom of their choice.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton spoke at a May 25, 2016, news conference announcing a lawsuit filed against the federal government over rules for transgender bathrooms in public schools.

The Big Conversation

Texas was one of 11 states to file a lawsuit Wednesday to stop a directive from the Obama administration for public school districts to let transgender students use the bathroom of their choice, marking the 40th time the state has filed suit against his administration.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced the lawsuit, calling the federal guidelines "outside the bounds of the constitution."

The Tribune's Morgan Smith wrote that Paxton filed the lawsuit this week because Harrold Independent School District, which sits near the Oklahoma border, passed a policy earlier this week "requiring students to use bathrooms according to the gender cited on their birth certificates."

“Harrold Independent School District fulfilled a responsibility to their community and adopted a bathroom policy puts the safety of their students first,” Paxton said Wednesday at a press conference announcing the lawsuit. “Unfortunately the policy placed them at odds with federal directives handed down earlier this month. That means the district is in the crosshairs of Obama administration which has maintained it will punish anyone who doesn’t comply with their orders.”

David Thweatt, the superintendent for Harrold ISD, joined Paxton at the lawsuit and said none of the 100 students in his district identify as transgender. Smith said Thweatt emphasized that the school board adopted the policy with the "safety, security, and dignity of the children" in mind.

Texas wasn't the only state to take issue with the federal guidelines for school policies. Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin joined Texas on the lawsuit.

The guidelines from the Obama administration said transgender students' right to use bathrooms aligned with their gender identity is protected under Title IX, a federal statute prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender at education institutions, Smith wrote.

Since President Obama took office in 2008, Texas has sued his administration 40 times, the Tribune's Neena Satija, Ryan McCrimmon and Becca Aaronson wrote. Paxton has filed nine of those lawsuits while his predecessor, former Texas Attorney General and current Gov. Greg Abbott, filed 31 of them.

Of the 40 cases that have been filed against the feds by Texas, court documents show the Lone Star State winning six and withdrawing eight. In 10 cases, the courts ruled against the state. The remaining 16 cases are still pending.

Trib Must Reads

Self-Funders Dominate Texas Delegation in Congress, by Abby Livingston – Two congressional candidates in this week's runoffs loaned their campaigns more than $1 million. It's the latest example of how self-funding is becoming the norm in congressional races.

Post-Bruner Upset, Keven Ellis is Cautiously Optimistic, by Kiah Collier – Keven Ellis could barely believe it when he learned he had won the GOP primary runoff against Mary Lou Bruner, who made national headlines for suggesting in Facebook posts that President Obama was once a gay prostitute.

Thin Margins Lead to at Least One Runoff Recount, by Patrick Svitek – Tuesday's Republican primary runoffs may not be over yet for at least one candidate.

Check Out the Winners of the Primary Runoffs, by Ryan Murphy – Looking for the winners of Tuesday night's primary runoffs? Our handy election scoreboard has you covered.

The Day Ahead

•    Today at 8 a.m., Tribune CEO Evan Smith sits down with state Sens. Kel Seliger and Kirk Watson for a conversation on higher education funding in Texas. The event will be at The Austin Club and will be livestreamed on the Tribune's website.


(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)

Did George P. Bush’s agency “reboot” pay ex-employees improperly?Austin American-Statesman

A $209 million contract, a felon and a mess at Dallas City Hall, The Dallas Morning News

Houston pension fund's leader ousted without explanationHouston Chronicle

Democrats quiet about Susan Hawk’s latest depression treatment as they look to retake Dallas DA’s office in 2018, The Dallas Morning News

This Texas fight shows just how conflicted we still are about ‘clean coal’, The Washington Post

Group sues, saying city not doing enough to prevent floodingHouston Chronicle

Dan Patrick picks up an ally, Joe Straus fights to near draw in GOP runoffs, The Dallas Morning News

The Third Ward's fight to manage gentrificationHouston Chronicle

Harris County death row inmate loses state court appeal, The Associated Press

Former Bexar deputy cleared of murderSan Antonio Express-News

Quote to Note

"This is just another outrageous example of President Obama trying to act like he is essentially a dictator who doesn’t have to consult with, much less collaborate with local and state officials [and Congress]."

 — U.S. Sen. John Cornyn on the federal government's guidelines for transgender students during a phone call with Texas reporters on Wednesday

Today in TribTalk

Tuition set-aside helps keep college affordable for Texans, by Kirk Watson – Selective memory loss is a common malady in the Texas Capitol. Maybe it’s something in the water. The most recent bout of amnesia has afflicted some who claim they want to improve college affordability while advocating cuts to a program that, for the past decade, has helped make college affordable for Texas families.

Kenneth Starr shouldn't be Baylor's scapegoat, by Vincent Harris – Everyone wants the same thing for our beloved Baylor University: to be a campus free from sexual assault and mistreatment. But we need to pause, step back and make decisions based on facts instead of acting like a mob. Serious decisions such as who leads our university should not be made based upon sensational media headlines, undocumented whispers or appeasing a vocal minority by removing the easiest scapegoat.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation with Ryan Sitton, Texas Railroad Commissioner, on June 3 at The Austin Club

•    The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 23-25 at the University of Texas at Austin

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