Supreme Court orders Texas county to halt ‘unlawful’ guaranteed income payments

An attempted Universal Basic Income program in the Lone Star State was temporarily halted after a lawsuit over the “no strings attached” cash.

While leftist cities across the country have endeavored to pave the way for state and federal UBI schemes with pilot programs, an emergency motion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) succeeded in stalling a Houston-area handout.

“I’m pleased the Supreme Court of Texas has blocked Harris County from disbursing these unlawful payments,” wrote the AG Tuesday after a ruling from the Texas Supreme Court had been issued. “I look forward to continuing to defend our Constitution and preventing this egregious misuse of taxpayer money.”

The temporary stay came amid the broader legal battle from Paxton who had sued Harris County earlier in April over the welfare scheme argued to be against the state’s Constitution which forbids “any county, city, town or other political corporation or subdivision of the State…to grant public money or thing of value in aid of, or to any individual.”

Last year, the Harris County Commissioners Court had voted 4-1 to approve the Uplift Harris program, designed as a UBI pilot to distribute monthly payments of $500 for 18 months to over 1,900 residents.

With the lawsuit pending and distribution of payments set to begin on Wednesday, Paxton had pursued an emergency motion that argued, “Harris County will violate our Constitution in less than two days. The County has created a novel scheme called ‘Uplift Harris’ to give away public funds to certain Harris County residents, with payments beginning at an unknown time on Wednesday.”

“Even Defendant Harris County Public Health (HCPH) advises recipients that the funds, which have ‘no strings attached,’…are a ‘gift’ for tax purposes…” the motion continued before stating, “The Texas Constitution, however, prohibits this kind of free-money transfer absent and express constitutional exception…No exception permits counties to give away public money as Uplift Harris does, even for a laudable cause like poverty relief.”

In their ruling, the Texas Supreme Court gave the county until April 29 to respond and asserted, “Without regard to the merits, the court grants an administrative stay as follows: Real parties in interest and their agents are prohibited from making payments under the Uplift Harris program pending further order of this Court.”

A statement from UpTogether CEO Jesús Gerena, whose organization seeks “systemic change through philanthropic and government partnerships,” and had backed similar efforts around the country, decried the stay. “Today’s shameful decision means thousands of Texas residents facing financial hardship will be denied an opportunity for financial stability and upward mobility for the unforeseeable future.”

“By blocking Uplift Harris, the state Supreme Court has tossed aside any notion of judicial restraint and joined Ken Paxton’s ongoing circus show, in which he continues to use people’s day-to-day survival as a political football,” he continued ramping up the vitriol. “There are no two ways about explaining what Mr. Paxton is doing — it is cruel, it is deceitful, and it is opportunistic.”

Likewise, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo (D) said in a statement to Fox News Digital, “This is the state once again trying to bully Harris County, and these families are getting caught in the middle.”

“The Attorney General has known for a year that we had this program coming, so we really were surprised to see them try to block it once we had already selected and notified the recipients,” she contended. “I’ve already heard stories of people who were expecting these funds and I hate having to give them contradictory information every day, but I can say that we are going to keep fighting.”

Despite the outrage from activists, many social media users applauded Paxton for his effort to prevent the redistribution of wealth.

Kevin Haggerty


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