Dan Patrick

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick

Texas far-right Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is lauding two just-passed state Senate bills which mandate the Ten Commandments be prominently displayed in every public school classroom and that public schools be allowed to create times specifically devoted so people can pray or read the Bible or other religious works.

In theory, both bills could be challenged by civil rights attorneys as unconstitutional, and Patrick’s praise of the legislation might make any case against them stronger.

“I believe that you cannot change the culture of the country until you change the culture of mankind,” Patrick said in a statement, The Texas Tribune reports. “Bringing the Ten Commandments and prayer back to our public schools will enable our students to become better Texans.”

Patrick, who has control over what legislation is voted on in the Texas legislature, appears to be revealing his intent to put prayer back into public school classrooms, which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional in 1962.

“The state cannot hold prayers in public schools, even if participation is not required and the prayer is not tied to a particular religion,” the legal website Oyez explains.

Republican State Sen. Phil King “said during a committee hearing earlier this month that the Ten Commandments are part of American heritage and it’s time to bring them back into the classroom. He said the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for his bill after it sided with Joe Kennedy, a high school football coach in Washington state who was fired for praying at football games. The court ruled that was praying as a private citizen, not as an employee of the district,” the Tribune reports.

But just as with prayer in schools, the Supreme Court decades ago also ruled that putting the Ten Commandments in public schools is unconstitutional.

Earlier this month, when the Texas bill was before the state Senate’s Education Committee, we reported that in 1980. the U.S. Supreme Court in Stone v. Graham ruled 5-4 that a Kentucky state law violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. That law, as Oyez notes, “required the posting of a copy of the Ten Commandments in each public school classroom,” just as the proposed Texas bill, SB 1515, does.

The Ten Commandments bill is opposed by John Litzler, general counsel and director of public policy at the Texas Baptists Christian Life Commission, who “said at the committee hearing that the organization has concerns about taxpayer money being used to buy religious texts and that parents, not schools, should be having conversations about religion with their children.”

“I should have the right to introduce my daughter to the concepts of adultery and coveting someone’s spouse,” Litzler said. “It shouldn’t be one of the first things she learns to read in her kindergarten classroom.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

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As Cruz Runs For Third Term, He Proposes Two-Term Limit For Senators

Sen. Ted Cruz

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Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz introduced a proposed constitutional amendment on Monday that would institute a lifetime two-term limit for members of the U.S. Senate and a three-term limit for members of the House of Representatives.

Cruz is running for a third six-year Senate term.

In a press release, Cruz said:

Term limits are critical to fixing what's wrong with Washington, D.C. The Founding Fathers envisioned a government of citizen legislators who would serve for a few years and return home, not a government run by a small group of special interests and lifelong, permanently entrenched politicians who prey upon the brokenness of Washington to govern in a manner that is totally unaccountable to the American people. Terms limits [sic] brings about accountability that is long overdue and I urge my colleagues to advance this amendment along to the states so that it may be quickly ratified and become a constitutional amendment.

Cruz announced in November that in 2024 he was "running for reelection in the Senate. I'm focused on the battles in the United States Senate."

His proposed amendment already has 11 co-sponsors, all of them Republicans and most first-term senators. One co-sponsor, Wyoming Sen. Cynthia Lummis, served four terms in the House prior to her 2020 election to the Senate.

Rep. Ralph Norman (R–SC) filed an identical House version earlier this month, with Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) and 57 House Republicans as co-sponsors. Norman started his fourth term in Congress this month.

This is not the first time Cruz has backed term limits for members of Congress. In 2012, during his first Senate campaign, the Dallas Morning News reported, he endorsed the idea of a term-limiting constitutional amendment but said he would not promise to cap his own service unless limits were placed on the terms of all members of Congress.

"Although he has no interest in serving decades in Congress, Ted has not pledged to unilaterally disarm, to term limit himself," a Cruz spokesperson said.

Cruz has authored unsuccessful constitutional amendment proposals on term limits in the last three Congresses.

A Cruz spokesperson did not respond to the American Independent Foundation’s questions about why Cruz is seeking a third Senate term and exempting previous and current terms from the limits.

Newsweek reported in November that, according to a spokesperson, while he supports term limits, Cruz believes "the rules should apply equally to everyone" and "has long said he doesn't believe that one side should unilaterally term limit themselves."

If his amendment were to receive the necessary two-thirds supermajority in the House and Senate and be ratified by the required 38 state legislatures, it would not soon bring the renaissance of a "government of citizen legislators" that Cruz claims.

The third section of his proposed amendment contains a loophole: "No term beginning before the date of the ratification of this article shall be taken into account in determining eligibility for election or appointment under this article." According to this clause, Cruz and other incumbent senators could serve up to two more full terms after ratification.

According to a 2018 Brookings Institution blog post by Casey Burgat, the director of the legislative affairs program at the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management, while the idea of term limits is popular, they would take away from voters the decision on how long is too long for a politician to stay in office; give lawmakers less time to learn and get good at their jobs; and automatically force out even the most effective legislators.

Burgat noted that term limits enacted in the states and in other countries have not been an effective way to curb political corruption. He observed that political scientists' studies on term limits "regularly find that many of the corruptive, 'swampy,' influences advocates contend would be curtailed by instituting term limits are, in fact, exacerbated by their implementation." Less senior lawmakers typically rely more on lobbyists and special interests when making policy decisions, and they tend to defer more to executive branch bureaucrats, he explained.

"Instead," he said, "as constituents, we should rely on the most effective mechanism available to remove unresponsive, ineffectual members of Congress: elections."

Cruz only received 50.9 percent of the vote in Texas in his 2018 reelection victory over Democratic nominee Beto O'Rourke. Texas voters will have another opportunity to decide on whether to keep Cruz next year.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.