Law and Politics

Start Free Trial

The Texas Constitution is widely criticized, particularly with regard to the three branches of government. If you could change one thing about each of the three branches, what would it be, and why?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Texas government is far more complex than many state governments, which makes it difficult to regulate. It is modeled in a very similar way as the federal government—it has an executive, legislative, and judicial branch. However, they all face their own issues that make them very difficult to deal with and coordinate.

The legislative branch is perhaps the most flawed. Because of their influence in the lawmaking process, coupled with weak legislation around bribes and special interest groups, the legislative branch tends to get bogged down with niche interests and with voting in favor of personal interests. Additionally, it meets infrequently and for a relatively short sessions—leading to a lack of progress and accomplishment on derisive issues.

The executive branch has to deal with the small number of adjustable positions. The governor only has a small level of authority in terms of appointing people to positions—which leads to the sustained positions of entrenched bureaucrats and the prevalence of conflicts of interest in the executive branch, making it ineffectual.

Finally, the judicial branch has many issues with jurisdiction and precedence. There are six different types of courts in Texas, and they all compete for jurisdiction, leading to overlapping duties and competing resolutions to cases, which causes a great deal of complexity.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

While the Texas Constitution is modeled after the American three-branched government, it is much less effective and is poorly structured for a variety of reasons. The balance of powers is off within this system, and each branch has its own special issues regarding power, legislation, and bipartisan dispute.

Within the executive branch, there are multiple high-ranking elected officials who are not under the purview of the governor. In that situation, these officials are essentially left to their own devices with no constraint. To correct this, I would put them under the governor and give him power of veto over some of their decisions.

The legislative branch is rife with special interests, which can sway the state in one party’s direction. Because lobbying groups are so powerful in Texas and wield lots of financial might, they can sway many politicians in the legislative branch their way.

Finally, the judicial system has little power over the other branches because of its complexity and lack of oversight. This leaves the other branches largely unchecked. To correct this, I’d reduce the complexity and widen the scope of issues the judicial branch oversees.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are several things that I would consider changing in the Texas Constitution. One of those things would be to make the members of the legislative branch work on a full-time basis. There are limits to how often the legislature meets. The legislature meets every two years for a session that lasts 140 days. This is a very part-time legislature. As a result, those who serve likely need to have other jobs. This means the members of the legislature may be less likely to spend the time needed to fully understand the issues with which they...

This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

must deal.

I would also change a provision dealing with the executive branch. In Texas, power is spread out over many different individuals. This is very different from the United States Constitution or the constitutions of other states. This limits the power of the governor, making it more difficult for the governor to lead the state without interference from other individuals. I would concentrate power in the hands of a governor instead of spreading it among many people.

I would also work to make the judicial branch simpler in Texas. There are six types of courts in Texas. Sometimes two courts share the same jurisdiction. Additionally, all judges are elected. This subjects them to various political pressures. I would have all judges be appointed to free them from political pressures.

There are several things I would consider changing in the Texas Constitution.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Texas Constitution, like all systems of government, has its weaknesses and specific areas that are targeted for criticism. This is an opinion question, so it can be answered in many different ways. I will point out a weakness in each branch so that you will be better able to propose a change.

The executive branch is flawed in that there are eleven elected positions and the governor does not have authority over these officials within his own branch of government. Presently, the positions are all filled with Republicans. In the recent past, the positions were filled with Democrats that challenged the governor on any of a number of policies. This created a sense of disunity within the branch and created a deadlock in government. A quick fix for this situation would be to make some or all of those executive positions appointed by the governor.

The biggest problem with the legislative branch is the influence of special interests on lawmakers. This is because Texas lawmakers are the lowest paid in the nation. An easy suggestion for a fix here would be to make legislative salary and benefits competitive with their colleagues from around the country.

The judicial branch is sometimes thought to be too complex. Another criticism would be that judges are appointed by popular election which means their power and autonomy are influenced by the citizens. In many states, judges are appointed and this is a more efficient and less expensive way of handling the appointment of judges. In the judicial branch, recommending the appointment of judges seems like a reasonable reform.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team