AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Supreme Court on Friday knocked down a legal challenge to the proposed San Antonio charter amendment, paving the way for residents to vote on the wide-sweeping measure May 6.
In a 6-3 opinion issued Friday morning, justices said the filing asked the court to interfere in an election before it takes place.
In the February legal filing, the Texas Alliance for Life asked the court to move the proposition from the May to November election, force the city of San Antonio to separate the proposed amendment into single-subject parts and to alter the ballot language.
“There is no corresponding redress from pre-election judicial meddling that prevents voters from voting in the first instance,” Justice Jane Bland wrote.
The opinion noted that legal concerns with the calling of the election could be taken up by the courts after the May election.
Decriminalizing abortion and marijuana possession are the centerpieces of the 13-page charter amendment, which would also make existing policies permanent, like the cite-and-release program, and bans on chokeholds and no-knock warrants — and even expand some of them.
If passed in May, the amendment would also create a new “Justice Director” position, which could not be filled by anyone with law enforcement experience.
A coalition of public advocacy groups, including ACT 4 SA, gathered more than the 20,000 required signatures to get the proposed amendment on the May ballot.
The San Antonio City Council on Feb. 16 voted 7-0 to order the election as part of a host of normal city business items. Because the proposed charter amendment was the result of a successful petition, the city’s legal team said the city council had no choice but to put it on the ballot.
Even so, three North Side councilmen made sure to leave council chambers rather than help pass it: They were Councilman Manny Pelaez (D8), Councilman John Courage (D9), and Councilman Clayton Perry (D10).
In a dissenting opinion released Friday, three Texas Supreme Court justices stated the amendment should have been moved to the November election, since it did not receive eight or more votes from council and therefore did not fit within the proper timeline for calling special elections.
ACT 4 SA Executive Director Amanda Tomas released the following statement regarding the ruling:
From the beginning, we knew we were justified with every piece of our proposition. The Supreme Court decision today further proved that. From day one this initiative had win after win because it is direct democracy in action and it is what the people of San Antonio want. We expect to see continued wins and success throughout the campaign.
City Attorney Andy Segovia released this statement:
We are not surprised by the Court’s ruling to allow the May election on the proposed Justice Policy to go forward. The Court highlighted the importance of letting voters speak but also pointed out that legal challenges are still available post-election.
Officials from Texas Alliance for Life said via email Friday they were working to provide a statement.