(Another) secret recording: Abbott fired judicial watchdogs for views on same-sex marriage

by | Dec 5, 2019 | LGBTQ Rights, Politics

A secret audio recording reported on by the Houston Chronicle suggests Gov. Greg Abbott’s office sent two judicial watchdogs packing because of their views on same-sex marriage. 

Two members of the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct, an independent state agency that investigates judicial misconduct, said they were no longer considered for reappointment because of Abbott’s views on same-sex marriage. 

Retired information technology executive Amy Suhl and retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Maricela Alvarado were appointed to the judicial watchdog agency last year. “The two say they were told that the governor had decided to go in a different direction,” the Chronicle reported. “But they believe Abbott pushed them out because of their votes to sanction a Waco judge who officiates opposite-sex marriages while refusing to conduct gay marriages.”

Last month, the 6-person Judicial Conduct panel voted to warn a Waco judge who refused to marry same-sex couples– a brazen move following the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that constitutionally mandated same-sex marriage as the law of the land. In an initial vote last year, Suhl and Alvarado voted to sanction the judge too. Then, their names suddenly disappeared from the list of judicial watchdog nominees. 

The two members– the only women on the panel– confronted Abbott’s office while secretly recording their interactions. “When we appoint people, we appreciate so much that people are willing to serve and hope that people understand that they’re serving the governor, not themselves,” one Abbott staffer told Suhl, according to the recording.

“Appointees swear an oath to serve the people of Texas, not any politician or political party,” said the Texas Democratic Party in a statement. “From Donald Trump to Greg Abbott to Dennis Bonnen, Republicans are deploying Trump-style mafia politics and the consequences are dire: Texans are disrespected, the rule of law is ignored, and working people are denied the opportunities they deserve.”

It’s not clear how much of a role Abbott played in forgoing the nominations of the two women, but considering the governor has opposed– and still does oppose– same-sex marriage, not to mention a rash of other LGBTQ equality measures, it’s not a stretch to believe Abbott acted in bad faith.

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

fernando@texassignal.com | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at fernando@texassignal.com

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