Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Citizens can Sue Over State Spending


The Third Court of Appeals has released an opinion vindicating the rights of taxpayers to sue the government over spending in violation of the Texas Constitution. 

The ruling, written by Justice Robert Pemberton, in Hendee v. Dewhurst, was released this morning.  Edd Hendee, executive director of Citizens Lowering Our Unfair Taxes (CLOUT), filed the suit in June of 2006. 

"We agree with the Plaintiffs that the Texas Supreme Court's jurisprudence under Article VII, Section 1 compels us to hold that Article VIII, Section 22 is self-executing to the extent of prohibiting legislative action inconsistent with tis provisions, and that Plaintiffs claims of violations do not present non-justiciable political questions" Justice Pemberton wrote. Pemberton additionally upheld a century of Texas precedent despite the arguments of the Attorney General, writing "a taxpayer has standing to sue in equity to enjoin the illegal expenditure of public funds, even without showing a distinct injury."  He added: "We reject the State Defendants' narrow view of the taxpayer standing exception."