Restricting the press restricts democracy

Editorial Board

The Texas Legislature, which commenced its biannual session earlier this month, announced that it would continue a measure from the COVID-19 pandemic that protected members of the legislature. The measure was originally enacted in 2021 and barred reporters from attending sessions on the legislature’s floor, according to the Texas Tribune. Originally reported in a tweet by investigative reporter Lauren McGaughy from the Dallas Morning News, McGaughy released a statement she had received from Secretary of the Senate Patsy Spaw. 

“There are no changes from last session,” Spaw wrote. “There is no floor seating for the press.” The statement then continues to outline the restrictions placed on the press that were levied during the 2021 legislative session which designates them to sit in the gallery on the third floor, while legislators conduct their business on the second floor. 

While this measure was largely understandable during the 2021 legislative session due to the extraneous circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, this development has come under harsh criticism for remaining in place during the current session. The motives of this move have come into question as well, with the notion that Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick — who is also the President of the Texas Legislature — has come out publicly against other forms of COVID-19 prevention measures, such as vaccination requirements. In a tweet from 2021, Patrick famously stated that “taking the COVID vax is a personal decision [and] should never be forced upon by the state or a private employer.” Why is the legislature taking measures to ensure their personal safety from reporters while not promoting safety in other public settings?

These measures could very well represent the start of a movement within the legislature to limit the reach and coverage of the press. While the relationship between the press and the legislature is strenuous in nature, citizens everywhere rely on the press to report on the dealings of our representatives. They should not be restricted from conveying that information to the public. Our government should not operate behind closed doors without oversight from the citizens it represents.

 As citizens, we cannot idly stand by while our legislature places needless limitations on the press and must demand their discontinuation. You can find the contact information for your local representative’s office at and