At the end of the 80th Legislative Session, a challenge was mounted to the leadership of Speaker Tom Craddick via the mechanism of a privileged motion for him to vacate the chair. However, Speaker Craddick refused to recognize the motion.

Speaker Craddick

In doing so, he ignored then-House Parliamentarian Denise Davis and Deputy House Parliamentarian Chris Griesel’s opinion that Speaker Craddick had to recognize members of the House on motions to vacate the chair. Thereafter on May 25, 2007, both Davis and Griesel resigned in protest.

Well, on June 18, 2007, Representative Jim Keffer—who is the Chair of the House Ways & Means committee—filed an opinion request with the Attorney General to clarify the powers of the Speaker, namely whether he has the power to refuse to recognize such motions.

In support thereof, the Attorney General has received a letter from the newly-installed House Parliamentarian, former Travis County Sherriff and Representative Terry Keel, as well as a letter from Warren Chisum, Chairman of the House Apppropriations committee.

Of far more import to this debate is the brief in opposition to Chairman Keffer’s opinion request, which was drafted by appellate wizard, former Solicitor General of Texas, and former SCOTUS clerk Greg Coleman (now with Yetter and Warden).

Having only summarily perused Mr. Coleman’s brief—which bases its arguments primarily in the contentions that: (1) constitutional separation of powers prevents the Attorney General from opining on Legislative branch squabbles; and (2) article XV, section 7 of the Texas Constitution of 1876 requires that the Speaker can only be removed under color of enacted law after a trial—and respecting the distinguished legal acumen of Mr. Griesel as well, I am severly underqualified to opine on what the correct result should be in this matter is. My instinct of course is that legislative battles should be resolved by the legislative branch of government, but nevertheless, my opinion is of no moment.

Thx to the Quorum Report, TexasPolitics, as well as to Denise Davis and Chris Griesel for their service to the State