Attorney General Opinions
The Texas Attorney General, among other duties and responsibilities, is charged with defending the constitution and laws of Texas and representing the state in litigation. Part of fulfilling these responsibilities involves serving as a general counsel for the governor, the Legislature, and the agencies of the state. And so upon request by certain Texas government officials, the Opinion Committee within the Office of the Texas Attorney General issues written interpretations of existing state law. These opinions do not address factual matters nor do they create or amend existing laws. And while these opinions are considered very persuasive, they are not binding. Interpretation of state law is ultimately left to the courts. Opinions can later be overruled.
Formal Opinions and Letter Opinions
Formal opinions issued by the Attorney General's Opinion Committee from 1939 onward are available online. At that site, you will also find a more detailed explanation of how the opinion process works, who can request an opinion, and which statutes give the Attorney General the authority to issue opinions.
Reports and opinions of the Texas Attorney General prior to 1939 are available in print at the Texas State Law Library or through the Office of the Attorney General's Opinion Library (see contact information at the bottom of the page).
Prior to 1999, the Attorney General also issued what were known as "letter opinions." Letter opinions concerned non-controversial issues, issues that affect a particular group, or issues local in nature. "A letter opinion has the same force and effect as a formal Attorney General Opinion, and represents the opinion of the A.G. unless and until it is modified or overruled by a subsequent letter opinion, a formal A.G. Opinion, or a decision of a court of record," 19 Tex. Reg. 8089 (1994). Beginning on 4 January 1999, letter opinions are no longer issued. All opinions are now "formal." Click here to access the archive of letter opinions.
Open Records Decisions and Letter Rulings
The Opinion Committee also rules on questions submitted by those in charge of public records who need advice on a request for information stemming from the Public Information Act. Open Records Decisions are available on the Attorney General's website.
In addition to the formal Open Records Decisions, the Open Records Division of the Attorney General's office also issues more informal open records letter rulings. According to the Open Records Division, these informal letter rulings are applicable only to the specific documents and circumstances surrounding them. They are not to be cited as precedent. Informal Open Records letter rulings are also available on the Attorney General's website.