Thursday, September 11, 2014

Louis, Louis

Texas governor Rick Perry’s legal team recently filed a motion to dismiss criminal charges arising from his use of veto power to veto funding for Texas’ Public Integrity Unit (PIU). The case is rather complicated and political. Essentially, the PIU, which handles political corruption investigations, among others, is run by Travis County, Texas DA Rosemary Lehmberg, a democrat. Lehmberg was arrested for DUI in 2013 but kept her position. Perry, citing the loss of public confidence in Lehmberg, threatened to veto about $7.5 million in funding for the PIU unless Lehmberg resigned. When she refused, Perry went through with the threat.

Perry was indicted for coercion, even though, as governor, he had the power to veto the funding. According to the special prosecutor, the threat to use the veto to pressure Lehmberg to resign—not the veto itself—was criminal. Perry was also charged with misusing government property in his possession.

In their motion, Perry’s lawyers strike hard against the argument that Perry was in possession of any Texas property . Specifically, Perry’s lawyers contrast him with Augustus, arguing that Perry, unlike Augustus, is not “traversing his realm with a portable mint and imperial treasure in tow,” and has no more possession over Texas revenue funds than does any other Texan.

But a reference to one historic leader wasn’t enough. Perry’s
"Louis XIV of France" by Hyacinthe Rigaud -
Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
counsel then goes on to quote Louis XIV, claiming that “no governor can say of his or her state what the Sun King said of France: “L’état, c’est moi.”* (Translation: “I am the State.”).

We know to avoid Latin and legalese in our writing, but what about French? Do you think a touch of the language of love might make the judge fall in love with Perry’s argument?

Happy Friday! 

*Scholars still question whether Louis actually ever uttered these words.

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