Despite facing a seemingly endless amount of personal legal problems, Attorney General Ken Paxton is now taking on Target's toilets.
Paxton apparently sent a letter to the nationwide shopping center chain, warning that its decidedly non-discriminatory bathroom policy allowing people to use whichever restroom, men's or women's, best pertains to the gender they identify with could lead to "criminal and otherwise unwanted activity," FOX News first reported yesterday (FOX claimed it had "exclusively obtained" Paxton's letter, which likely just means Paxton's office gave it to the conservative news network first). Target raised the ire of conservative pundits and politicians when it announced its transgender-friendly bathroom policy late last month.
“As chief lawyer and law enforcement officer for the State of Texas, I ask that you provide the full text of Target’s safety policies regarding the protection of women and children from those who would use the cover of Target’s restroom policy for nefarious purposes,” Paxton wrote in the letter. Based on what FOX reported that Paxton wrote, it's unclear what specific "nefarious purposes" Paxton is referring to here. Leaving the seat up? Failing to flush? Pulling an upper decker? (Don't Google that last one.) Equally unclear is how Target's new policy would in any way make its restrooms more or less safe than they were before.
Of course, simply being "Ken Paxton" could lead to (alleged) "criminal or otherwise unwanted activity," too, but you don't see Paxton writing warning letters to himself. The Attorney General is currently dealing with civil and criminal investigations and lawsuits or charges at federal, state and local levels stemming from his alleged fraudulent investor recruiting practices for a Texas technology company.
Paxton doesn't really have the legal power to change Target's bathroom policy, but there has been some chatter lately that next year, Texas could adopt statewide legislation similar to the discriminatory bills recently passed in North Carolina and Mississippi, which prevent transgender people from using the gendered restrooms with which they identify if it does not match the sex listed on their birth certificate.
Last week, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said he would openly support a bathroom bill if it were introduced, and it appears as though Paxton would, too (if he can stay out of prison). But there may not be widespread support for such a bill. In the town of Rockwall on Monday, the city council overwhelmingly rejected a proposed potty ordinance — the first of its kind to be officially introduced in Texas — and yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice said North Carolina's bathroom bill violates the Civil Rights Act.
If Texas does hope to slip a statewide discriminatory lavatory law through the legislature, it may not have much time.