Tuesday, December 5, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Gov. Perry Not Liable for Texas Day Laborer Law

HOUSTON (CN) - Sovereign immunity shields Texas Gov. Rick Perry from a lawsuit that seeks to hold him liable for a law that bans day laborers from roadside work solicitation, a federal magistrate judge ruled.

In a federal complaint, an unincorporated association of Latino day laborers known as Jornaleros de Las Palmas, or the Day Laborers of Las Palmas, say that a section of the Texas Transportation Code violates the First and 14th Amendments. The code allows for solicitation of charitable contributions but makes it illegal to solicit employment on a public roadway.

The workers say League City Police Chief Michael Jez began focusing his efforts on applying the code to day laborers in September 2009. The complaint specifically describes how police picked up 14 of the workers in an undercover operation on Feb. 5, 2010.

Jez, League City and Perry are named as defendants.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Wm. Smith dismissed Perry as a defendant in both his official and individual capacity on Wednesday.

Smith found that the workers could not pin enforcement of the challenged section of the Texas Transportation Code on Perry in his official capacity as governor.

Smith likewise determined that the workers lacked standing to go after Perry in his individual capacity. "Perry challenges plaintiff's standing on the grounds that plaintiff's members could not sue him in their own right because there is no causal connection between his conduct and plaintiff's injury," Smith wrote. "The court agrees."

"Plaintiff's concern that if the court were to accept Perry's standing argument, the constitutionality of the statute could never be challenged is unfounded," according to a footnote of the eight-page order. "Plaintiff's constitutional challenge will continue against the League City defendants."

Since the workers had also failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, Smith found that there is an alternative basis to dismiss Perry in his individual capacity.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.