Supreme Court rules for proposal to decriminalize abortion and marijuana to remain on San Antonio ballot

The decision clears a legal hurdle for San Antonio activists working to reform law enforcement.

SAN ANTONIO — The Texas Supreme Court has cleared the way for a justice charter amendment seeking the decriminalization of abortion and marijuana possession to go before San Antonio voters on May 6. 

Texas Alliance for Life, an anti-abortion advocacy group, had filed an emergency petition in early February alleging neglect on the part of San Antonio city officials in approving Proposition A, spearheaded by the group ACT 4 SA. Working with a voter based in the Alamo City, Texas Alliance for Life was trying to get Proposition A onto the ballot of a later election while also splitting it up into multiple measures.

The central points of argument: That San Antonio voters were not being given enough time to consider the ballot measure’s multiple proposals before the May municipal election, and that those proposals should be voted on independent of each other. 

But the Texas Supreme Court on Friday disagreed, denying the Texas Alliance for Life’s petition in a 6-3 vote. The majority opinion cited the court’s objective of not interfering in elections, as well as San Antonio’s responsibility to put the ballot measure before voters at the soonest possible date. 

The majority opinion also stated that San Antonio leaders can’t legally divide a citizen-submitted amendment themselves, and identified a lack of evidence that voters wouldn’t have enough time to consider the various topics included in Proposition A before May 6. 

Among other things, Proposition A would also codify the banning of police chokeholds, ban no-knock warrants by San Antonio police, create a city justice director position and make permanent the current practice of cite-and-release for some minor crimes. Despite the high-profile issues on the ballot, City Attorney Andy Segovia has said the changes involved are inconsistent with Texas law.

In a Friday afternoon statement, leaders of Texas Alliance for Life said they were “tremendously disappointed” in the outcome, alleging the amendment in its current form constitutes a violation of voters’ rights. 

Ananda Tomas, of ACT 4 SA, said the group did the research to ensure they were operating within legal means. 

“This is all the work of direct democracy in action, upheld by San Antonio voters and the Supreme Court,” Tomas told KENS 5. “This is just one of the many wins that Prop A will see.”

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