GLENN: One of my -- one of my favorite Texans is our Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. He has been the attorney general here in Texas since 2015. He won the election as the state's top law enforcement guy. And he is a champion of the Tea Party movement. Conservative principles.
I wanted him on today because Texas is under attack. The new voter ID bill has been overturned in the Texas Supreme Court. I think it was Supreme Court, was it not, Ken? Was it the Supreme Court?
KEN: No, this was a Corpus Christi district judge appointed by President Obama.
GLENN: Okay. So tell me what happened. Tell me what people are fighting, what you're fighting for, for the state of Texas, and what happened?
KEN: So let me give you a little background: This was passed in 2011. I was in the legislature, actually in the Texas house when we passed it.
The goal was to prevent fraud in elections. I know that's a controversial topic, to prevent fraud. But that's what we were trying to do.
And so we started requiring photo ID. We were allowed seven different photo IDs that people could use. If you couldn't get one or you couldn't afford one, we will give you one free. You can use all kinds of IDs, including driver's license, military IDs, concealed handgun. And then we have Texas IDs, you can use.
And so we've been using that successfully. There have been no cases that we know of where there's been discrimination in the elections. But despite that, this judge found our law discriminatory. And so that happened actually when Abbott was attorney general. So we took that up to the Fifth Circuit. We drew a fairly liberal panel. We lost. And we actually asked the whole court to hear it.
We ended up losing, 9-6. But the court gave us a roadmap to fixing it. They said, if you'll put an affidavit in there, allow people to come in and basically swear that they -- they couldn't get a photo ID and that they are the person they say they are, then your photo ID laws are good. So we did that. The legislature passed it. The governor signed it. And, unfortunately, this judge still said it's discriminatory.
GLENN: So is it true that this judge requires a photo ID to be able to get into her courtroom?
KEN: It is true. It's also true that the fifth circuit does as well. So almost every federal courtroom you go into, you have to show federal ID. Apparently, that's not discriminatory.
GLENN: Yeah. Did -- have you asked any of them? I mean, I'd love to hear the answer to that one. How is it not discriminatory?
KEN: Yeah. I guess they know. I mean, this isn't about discrimination. This is about fraud. And everybody knows that is the issue. And if you don't have photo ID, it allows more people to vote that shouldn't be voting. And that's the battle. That's the true battle. This idea of discrimination is false. Because there's no evidence of it. There was no evidence in the trial record of any discrimination. The Justice Department under Obama came to Texas looking -- you know, advertising, please, give us stories. Well, they couldn't find them.
GLENN: So who has standing in this case? Why does anybody have standing? If there's nobody who has an actual episode, who has standing?
KEN: That's a very good question. And yet, here we are. With our photo ID laws struck down. So this is something we are going to appeal. We believe the Fifth Circuit will uphold it, given what they already told us, and given the fact that we had the legislature change the law to satisfy them. And, look, I didn't want to change the law. But it was a relatively minor change. And it was still leave us with a really solid photo ID law and allow us to prevent fraud. But, again, it will have to go back up to fifth circuit to hopefully get the right result.
GLENN: Ken, I don't think -- I mean, I think -- I wasn't really actually a -- that was an honest question. Who has standing? Who is funding this? Who is suing the state? How is this being brought to the front of the court every time?
KEN: It's just private plaintiffs who sue and claim discrimination. It's -- it's -- it's -- it's -- and, again, you ask a great question. Because if there is no actual harm, how can this be struck down? And the other thing you need to think about -- I mean, this is a duly enacted law. The Texas legislature. I mean, this had to go through all kinds of voting and people debating. And we -- we have a federal judge that just steps in and says, sorry, you can't do that. I'm taking over your legislature, basically.
GLENN: So, Ken, where are we headed?
KEN: Well, I still think we're going to be successful. Because I think the Fifth Circuit gave us clear guidelines on the part that they were concerned about. And we addressed that. And if -- if that didn't do it, then photo ID can't exist, for some reason.
GLENN: So Bill and I -- Bill O'Reilly and I were just having a conversation about what's happening with the statues around the country. And we need to have a -- an actual conversation. There -- you know, if you were in the hierarchy of the Confederacy, you knew exactly what was going on. But just like we didn't have a problem with the Germans. We had a problem with the Nazis. We didn't -- we didn't go and try to erase all Germans. We did try to take the Nazis out. And, you know, Germany went so far as to saying, you can't have any German symbols. No statues of any of these guys. No matter where they were, you're a Nazi. You're a Nazi. You're out.
The Confederacy, if you read the Confederate constitution was not about state rights. It was about slavery. Period.
Those statues like Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was the -- you know, a great general. Yeah, he also started the Klan. Those things need to be talked about. And we need to find the right way to deal with our history.
But we are now seeing violence and people going like it's Saddam Hussein and putting nooses around necks and pulling them down. What is -- what is the state of Texas thinking about all of this?
KEN: So, you know, we haven't had a lot of controversy about it. I know that UT took some down in the middle of the night. Took some statues down.
I always think -- I think you've sort of hit the nail on the head. I think discussion and debate about this is a good thing, rather than necessarily doing it in the middle of the night. A decision made by a few people. Because, again, this is our -- it is our history. Bad or good. And hiding it doesn't really -- I don't think is very effective. I think knowing about it, understanding it, and looking to the future and deciding, you know, what -- what was good about our history and what was bad about our history, I think that's really the only way we can learn. If we hide it and bury it, I don't know that that really accomplishes anything.
GLENN: No. It festers. It festers. As a Texas attorney general, can you explain to those who might be listening, who think that, you know, free speech is great, up until a point. That we have to defend the people's right to have abhorrent points of view. It doesn't mean that they can act on all of those things. But they have a right to say things that are despicable in our -- in our thought.
In fact, those are the only kinds of -- that's the only kind of speech that ever needs protecting.
KEN: No, I totally -- you've got it. The foundation of our country was built on the First Amendment. Both religious freedom and free speech -- free political speech. And, you know, if we start censoring certain people, then the question is, where does it stop?
You know, you can't go into a movie theater and yell fire and create chaos and -- and harm to people. But beyond that, I mean, we -- we fought -- we had people die to protect people's right to say really bad, horrible things. And that's really what's made our country great. People can believe whatever they want to believe and they can still live here.
GLENN: Let me ask you this, you just said you can't go into a movie theater and cry fire. But here's Nancy Pelosi yesterday. I want to get your opinion on this.
NANCY: -- in denying that organization, their free speech rights. Because the Constitution does not say that a person can shout -- yell "wolf" in a crowded theater.
GLENN: So we know you can't cry fire, but can you cry wolf in a crowded movie theater?
KEN: Well, I might argue you could. Because I don't think people really believe there's a wolf.
GLENN: Yeah. I'm going to a movie tonight, and I'm going to have my wife tape it. And I invite everybody to go into their crowded movie theater tonight and just yell wolf and see what happens. Because I don't think anybody is going to beat it to the door.
GLENN: Maybe it's just me.
Last question, how is your wife? Because I like your wife much more than I like you.
KEN: Well, that is a comment -- I hear that commonly.
GLENN: I know.
KEN: She's doing great. She's actually considering a run for Texas Senate in Collin and Dallas County.
GLENN: Really? When is she coming to the studio? And she has to bring her musical instrument. I think she plays guitar, right?
KEN: Yes. She plays guitar and the piano. But, yeah, she'll be happy to come.
GLENN: No, I'd be happy to have her.
KEN: She probably -- she hasn't announced. But she may do that next week. So may be a good time to talk to her.
GLENN: Yeah. That would be great. That would be great. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Ken, thanks so much. Thanks for your hard work, and thanks for standing up for what is right. We know you have a tough job. God bless.
KEN: Hey. Thank you for having me on. Have a great day.
GLENN: You bet.