Article V, Section 31 of the Texas Constitution ("Court Administration and Rule-Making Authority")

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As amended November 4, 1997:

(a) The Supreme Court is responsible for the efficient administration of the judicial branch and shall promulgate rules of administration not inconsistent with the laws of the state as may be necessary for the efficient and uniform administration of justice in the various courts.

(b) The Supreme Court shall promulgate rules of civil procedure for all courts not inconsistent with the laws of the state as may be necessary for the efficient and uniform administration of justice in the various courts.

(c) The legislature may delegate to the Supreme Court or Court of Criminal Appeals the power to promulgate such other rules as may be prescribed by law or this Constitution, subject to such limitations and procedures as may be provided by law.

(d) Notwithstanding Section 1, Article II, of this constitution and any other provision of this constitution, if the supreme court does not act on a motion for rehearing before the 180th day after the date on which the motion is filed, the motion is denied.

Editor Comments

This section, added in 1985 and amended once, grants the Supreme Court extensive rulemaking authority.

However, as under the repealed Article V, Section 25, the rules cannot conflict with legislative enactments.

This section is the only one in Article V that has an official title ("Court Administration and Rule-Making Authority").

The addition of Subsection (d) to this section, a specific appellate rule of civil procedure, was made in 1997.

To review the "most current version" of the rules promulgated under this section, visit Rules & Standards.

Attorney Steve Smith

Recent Decisions

  • Jackson v. State Office of Admin. Hearings, 351 S.W.3d 290, 298 (Tex. 2011) (citations omitted) ("We need not decide whether Rule 76a applies to SOAH, nor whether the documents Jackson requested are court orders. If they were, Rule 76a would conflict with Texas Family Code section 231.108 to the extent Rule 76a would require disclosure of information in SOAH's . . . . '[W]hen a rule of procedure conflicts with a statute, the statute prevails unless the rule has been passed subsequent to the statute and repeals the statute as provided by Texas Government Code § 22.004.' Jackson does not argue that Rule 76a was passed subsequent to the TPIA or the Texas Family Code.")
  • State v. Williams, 938 S.W.2d 456, 459 (Tex.Crim.App. 1997) ("While the list is not necessarily exclusive, we have also explained that the Constitution 'expressly grants the Legislature ultimate authority over judicial 'administration.'' Id. at 240 (citing Texas Constitution, Article V § 31(a)); [] Meshell v. State, 739 S.W.2d 246, 255 (Tex.Crim.App. 1987) (interpreting former Article V § 25, which was predecessor to § 31 and contained similar wording). This express grant exempts legislative enactments regarding judicial administration from the proscriptions contained in the Separation of Powers clause. . . . Both situations regulate when a party may prosecute an action in the courts.")

Historic Decisions

  • Few v. Charter Oak Fire Insurance Co., 463 S.W.2d 424, 425 (Tex. 1971) ("If only Rule 39 were involved in the case before us, our decision would be controlled by our earlier decision in Petroleum Anchor. However, we are now faced with two relevant statutes enacted by the legislature. Article V, Sec. 25, of the Texas Constitution, Vernon's Ann. St. vests in the Supreme Court the power to establish rules of procedure 'not inconsistent with the law of the State.' Legislative authority for this power is found in Article 1731a, Sec. 2. . . . As the constitutional provision indicates, this is a limited power; and when a rule of the court conflicts with a legislative enactment, the rule must yield.")
  • Government Servs. Ins. Underwriters v. Jones, 368 S.W.2d 560, 563 (Tex. 1963) (emphasis in original) ("Insofar as procedure is concerned, the 1891 amendment to the judicial article of the Constitution vesting the Supreme Court with rule-making power expressly recognizes that such power is subordinate to that of the Legislature. Article V, § 25 of the Constitution, reads as follows: 'The Supreme Court shall have power to make and establish rules of procedure not inconsistent with the laws of the State for the government of said court and the other courts of this State to expedite the dispatch of business therein.' See also, Golden v. Odiorne, 112 Tex. 544, 249 S.W. 822.")
  • Ashford v. Goodwin, 131 S.W. 535, 538 (Tex. 1910) ("It is urged by the respondent that the procedure prescribed by the statute under consideration is insufficient to enable . . . . Where a district court has acquired jurisdiction of a case as in the present one, justice will not be permitted to miscarry for the want of some rule of procedure by which the facts may be brought before the court or any other matter that is necessary for the examination and decision of the question. It is unnecessary for us in this case to go further in the discussion of this question. We hold that the court had ample power to perform the duties prescribed by the statute; therefore that objection is not well taken.")
  • Scott v. State, 24 S.W. 789, 790 (Tex. 1894) ("The ruling is that original . . . . The power to disbar attorneys is not expressly conferred by that section upon these courts; but it is a power necessarily inherent in all courts possessing such general jurisdiction as is given to the District Courts by the Constitution of 1876. We have no serious doubt that the Legislature was empowered to regulate the exercise of the jurisdiction of the District Courts in this matter; and it would seem proper that a court which is authorized to grant licenses to practice in that and other courts, should be empowered, for good cause shown, to cancel such license and to disbar an attorney from practicing thereunder.")
  • Texas Land Co. v. Williams, 48 Tex. 602, 603-04 (1878) ("The members of the Convention, in giving the Supreme Court 'the power to make rules and regulations,' for the express purpose of regulating the proceedings and expediting the business in the courts, must have designed more than the making of a few short rules of court, such as have formerly been made and practiced under. . . . The rules of the District Court and of the Supreme Court are shaped with reference to each other, and are designed to establish a connected system of judicial procedure, from the petition filed in the District or County Court, to the final judgment in the Supreme Court or in the Court of Appeals.")

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