Texas Considers Legislation To Dismiss ‘Incompetent’ District Attorneys

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced his support for a bill in the state legislature that would allow him to dismiss district attorneys who refuse to enforce the state’s abortion laws. The proposed bill would target “official misconduct” by district attorneys.

House Bill 17 would punish district attorneys who make a “public declaration or announcement” regarding “an intent to prohibit the enforcement of any criminal offense.”

The state would enable the removal of such law enforcement officials due to the “intentional, unlawful behavior related to official duties.” 

It would also seek to punish a district attorney or county attorney should when they prohibit or materially limit “the enforcement of any criminal offense other than to comply with an injunction, judgment or order issued by a court.”

While the text does not explicitly mention abortion, several district attorneys stated last year that they would not enforce the state’s restrictions on the practice.

A total of 88 prosecutors from various states, including Texas, signed a joint letter stating that they would not prosecute the practice, calling the laws a “mockery of justice.” 

The letter said that “we stand together in our firm belief that prosecutors have a responsibility to refrain from using limited criminal legal system resources to criminalize personal medical decisions.”

Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza (D) signed the letter and said that the state’s Republican Party was “increasingly an undemocratic party that has imposed radical views not supported by the majority of the people who live in the state or this country.”

The governor has also had a busier-than-usual legislative session. Abbott signed a bill into law that barred the use of gender change treatments for minors.

The governor also signed a new law that restricted transgender athletes’ participation in college sports. The new bill only allows athletes to compete with other members of their biological gender.

“Today is an important day for female athletes across the state of Texas, including little girls who aspire to one day compete in college sports,” Abbott said.

The governor also vetoed 76 bills over a dispute with the state legislature over property taxes.