Have you been following THSC’s battle with the Texas Ethics Commission over our free speech and our ability to protect home schoolers? We have had some exciting developments recently. THSC recently filed a brief with the 3rd Court of Appeals explaining how the TEC has blatantly disregarded the dictates of the Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court, and Texas law.
We are also currently seeking injunctions from both the 3rd Court of Appeals and the Lubbock Federal District Court that will prevent the unconstitutional TEC rules from going into effect until the case has been decided.
THSC’s Court Battle Against the TEC
The battle for parental rights in Texas can take many forms. We usually find ourselves fighting against threats that undermine parental authority, but sometimes the fight threatens our ability to speak on the issues that Keep Texas Families Free.
Almost two years ago, on July 25, 2014, THSC filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Texas Ethics Commission. Additionally, we filed another suit earlier this year in the State District Court in Travis County against the TEC.
At issue in the federal suit is the fact that the TEC had refused to clarify rules that apply to non-profit organizations (c)(4) and unconstitutionally restrict our freedom of speech. At the state level, the TEC adopted those new rules that, in effect, would have required THSC Association, which is classified as a non-profit organization (c)(4), to report as a Political Action Committee and disclose the names of our members.
How does disclosing names of members limit free speech?
Two laws must be noted when discussing why this is a concern: The First Amendment to the Constitution that specifically protects freedom of speech and the Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2010 that stated organizations like THSC are included in the First Amendment right to free speech.
Under the TEC’s new rules, THSC would have been required to register as a PAC and, amidst a slew of other egregious insults to our First Amendment freedoms, we would have been required to disclose our donors, opening them up to potential political persecution and intimidation much like what happened in Madison, Wisconsin.
Without our right to free speech, THSC is unable to fight effectively to protect the rights of Texas parents and home schoolers. As you can imagine, THSC fought back. For the past two years, this legal battle against a rogue government agency has continued.
After our suit was filed, the TEC was forced to issue clarifications of its rules, loosening some of the unconstitutional restrictions it had devised; however, it refused to completely respect the constitutional rights of organizations like THSC. Therefore, the suit continues to move forward, most recently culminating in the brief filed with the 3rd Court of Appeals.
A Series of Abuses
To some citizens it may be surprising that the TEC would attempt to flagrantly limit free speech. It may even be difficult to believe that the TEC would use extra regulatory power to target political enemies like in Madison, Wisconsin, but this is not the only time the TEC has come under fire for corruption or going beyond the law.
Just this past month, the Vice-Chairman of the Commission resigned amidst criticism accusing him and three of his fellow commissioners of overstaying the constitutional length of their terms. Furthermore, reports questioned whether he violated the lobbying regulations that, ironically, the TEC is required to enforce. Because of these unlawful actions, THSC recently joined Texas Right to Life, Empower Texans, and several other Texas grassroots organizations in writing a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott that describes the problems caused by TEC Commissioners that ignore the lawful limits to their terms.
These commissioners seem intent on using their power to attack the free speech of conservative organizations like THSC. The entire affair is reminiscent of the recent IRS scandal that proved IRS officials had targeted conservative groups for audits and harassment.
Texas citizens should never take their rights for granted. Rogue government agencies have a long history of targeting their political enemies and infringing on First Amendment rights. The Texas home school community has experienced that first hand. If the TEC had its way, THSC would lose their ability to fight on behalf of parents and home schoolers to Keep Texas Families Free. Not only are we defending Texas families, we are making great strides toward defeating the TEC’s unconstitutional attacks on our rights. You can rest assured that THSC will see it through to the end.
What can you do?
- Pray. Please pray for this litigation, for justice to be served, and that the free speech of Texas citizens will be protected.
- Give. Remember THSC’s advocacy to Keep Texas Families Free operates on gifts. Please consider supporting the work of protecting home schoolers and parental rights.
- Stay Informed. Sign up for email notifications to keep informed on issues such as the TEC’s overreaching behaviors that impact your family. THSC pledges to stand firm for your First Amendment right.