The long shadow of Edward Young (right), who served as Minnesota’s well-mustachioed Attorney General in the early 20th century, fell upon two companion cases about Texas election laws, in which a panel majority found that the Texas Secretary of State was not a proper defendant under Ex Parte Young. A dissent (from both panel opinions) saw matters otherwise:
I write to remind failing memories of the signal role of Ex parte Young in directly policing the path of cases and controversies to the Supreme Court from our state and federal courts and warn against its further diminution. … ‘Ex parte Young poses no threat to the Eleventh Amendment or to the fundamental tenets of federalism. To the contrary, it is a powerful implementation of federalism necessary to the Supremacy Clause, a stellar companion to Marbury and Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee.’
The majority continues this Court’s effort to shrink the role of Ex parte Young, by overly narrow readings of the state officer’s duty to enforce Texas’s election laws. … [T]he Texas Secretary of State is the “chief election officer of the state” and is directly instructed by statute to “obtain and maintain uniformity in the application, operation, and
interpretation of this code and of the election laws outside this code.” Moreover, the Secretary is charged to “take appropriate action to protect the voting rights of the citizens of this state from abuse by the authorities administering the state’s electoral processes” and “to correct offending conduct.” Although recent decisions by this Court have split hairs regarding the level of enforcement authority required to satisfy Ex parte Young, the Secretary is charged to interpret both the Texas Election Code and the election laws outside the Code, including federal law, to gain uniformity, tasks it is clearly bound to do. The allegation in these cases is that the Secretary is failing in that duty. This charge should satisfy our Ex parte Young inquiry.