Tag Archives: US Supreme Court

Today in Texas History – February 26

SWEATT, HEMAN MARION | The Handbook of Texas Online| Texas ...

From the Annals of Segregation –  In 1946, Heman Sweatt met with University of Texas President Theophilus S. Painter and other university officials to present a formal request for admission to the UT School of Law.  Sweatt was accompanied by representatives of the NAACP. Sweatt had already agreed to sue UT if he was denied admission and present a test case for the integration of higher education in Texas.   UT denied him admission. Painter informed him that although his credentials were adequate enough he could not allow him to enter UT.  As one court put it, “he possessed every essential qualification for admission, except that of race, upon which ground alone his application was denied.” The Texas Attorney General Grover Sellers backed up Painter’s decision.  Sweatt filed suit against Painter on May 16, 1946.  The trial court found that under the “separate but equal” doctrine, Texas had to build an equal law school within a six month time frame. After six months had passed the judge threw out the case because Texas A&M had planned a resolution to provide a legal education for blacks. Sweatt, with the backing of the NAACP, appealed.  The case finally reached the United States Supreme Court in June of 1950.  The Supreme Court held that black students were not offered an equal quality law education in the state of Texas, and as a result UT would have to admit qualified black applicants.  On September 19, 1950, Sweatt registered for classes at the UT School of Law. However, as a result of the tremendous amount of stress and emotional trauma from the long drawn out court cases Sweatt’s mental and physical health had taken a turn for the worse.  He later withdrew from the school.

Today in Texas History – Jan 11

From the Annals of Criminal Justice    In 1954, the landmark appeal styled Hernández v. the State of Texas was brought before the United States Supreme Court.  Hernandez is considered to be the only Mexican-American civil rights case decided by the Court in the post-war era.

Pedro Hernandez, a Mexican-American agricultural worker, was convicted by an all-white jury in Jackson County for the 1950 murder of Joe Espinosa. Hernandez’s pro bono legal team, led by Gustavo C. Garcia,  wanted to use Hernandez’s conviction as a test case to challenge “the systematic exclusion of persons of Mexican origin from all types of jury duty in at least seventy counties in Texas.”  The appeal was based on the established practice of systematically excluding Mexican Americans, a recognized minority in Texas, from service on grand juries and juries.  The evidence showed that although numerous Mexican Americans were citizens and had otherwise qualified for jury duty in Jackson County, during the previous 25 years no Mexican Americans were among the 6,000 persons chosen to serve on juries.  This was a violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as juries were restricted by ethnicity.  The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of Hernandez, and required he be retried by a jury composed without discrimination against Mexican Americans. The Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment protects persons beyond the racial classes and applies to discrimination based on nationality groups as well.

Photo of Pedro Hernandez with his attorneys Gustavo Garcia and Johnny Herrera.


Today in Texas History – September 23

June 13th, 1977 - Tom C. Clark, former Supreme Court Justice (1949-67), died at 77. Thomas Campbell "Tom C." Clark (b. 1899) was United States Attorney General from 1945 to 1949 and an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1949 to 1967. Clark died in New York City and is buried in Restland Memorial Park, Dallas, Texas.:

From the Annals of the Halls of Justice –  In 1899, Thomas Campbell Clark was born in Dallas.  Clark was born to a family of lawyers.  He naturally attended the University of Texas School of Law graduating in 1922.  He worked in his father’s law firm for several years before becoming a prosecutor in Dallas County.  He later served in the Department of Justice becoming a political ally of Harry Truman.  He worked with Truman to ferret out corruption in the war effort but also to his later regret worked on the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII.  Truman appointed him as U.S. Attorney General from 1945 to 1949 and then appointed him to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1949.  He resigned from the Court in 1967 when his ungrateful son Ramsey Clark was appointed as U.S. Attorney General.  He remains the only Justice of the Supreme Court to have attended law school in Texas.

Supreme Court Upholds UT-Austin’s Admission Standars

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the University of Texas at Austin’s admissions process which gives a small advantage to black and Hispanic applicants.  The decision yet again allows US colleges to use of affirmative action in their admissions procedures.   The 4-3 vote was a defeat for Sugar Land’s favorite litigant Abigail Fisher who has repeatedly claimed that she was unfairly denied admission because of her whiteness.  After being denied admission into UT-Austin in 2008, she has been relentless in her campaign to end even the slight hint of affirmative action that UT-Austin uses in an attempt to preserve some diversity on the 40 Acres.  Fisher – who did not qualify for automatic admission – claimed that black and Hispanic students who were less qualified got in over her.  But Thursday’s decision brings her case to a close. The ruling will likely have national implications in that the Court has again reaffirmed that colleges have some leeway to use affirmative action in picking their students.

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds One Man One Vote

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge by two Texas citizens that would have upended the doctrine of One Man, One Vote.  The case, Evenwel v. Abbott, was masterminded by highly successful Supreme Court lawyer Ed Blum and his erroneously named Project for Fair Representation.  Blum and the plaintiffs claimed that Texas State Senate districts were unconstitutional because they were drawn on the basis of total population instead of the number of eligible voters.  The argument was a clever ploy to redirect political power from more liberal urban areas to more conservative rural areas who have higher numbers of eligible voters as a percentage of total population.   Although the U.S. Constitution mandates that congressional districts be drawn on the basis of population, there is no such mandate for state legislative districts.  Alas, the ploy failed and the Court held that Texas could legally apportion its legislative districts on the basis of total population.

Adopting voter-eligible apportionment as constitutional command would upset a well-functioning approach to districting that all 50 States and countless local jurisdictions have followed for decades, even centuries . . . Appellants have shown no reason for the Court to disturb this longstanding use of total population.

Unfortunately, the Court left open the question of whether a state could use some other basis to draw its districts.  Expect another run at this naked attempt for the Republicans to maintain their stranglehold on Texas politics.    Right now, the population difference between the largest and smallest districts in Texas is about 8 percent. If the State were to change and instead use the number of eligible voters in each district for apportionment, there would be about a 40 percent difference between the largest and the smallest districts.  That would be a remarkable shift of power back to more conservative rural areas and result in unbelievable redistricting battles.

Is There Anything Ted Cruz Doesn’t Lie About (cont.)?

Red loves his frequent emails from Sen. Ted Cruz (TP-Texas).  The one this morning contained some real whoppers revealing that our Cubo-Canadian senator is either a constitutional ignoramus or liar.  Red goes with liar.

Our Founding Fathers designed the Constitution to act as chains to bind the mischief of government (actually we all know it was written to empower the government to actually accomplish stuff after the disastrous gridlock caused by the Articles of Confederation – but pish!) and protect the liberties endowed to us by our Creator (forgetting to include a single reference to God or a Creator must have been an oversight – and that whole thing about “no religious test ever being required as a qualification to any office or public trust”  – well that’s just words). Today, with a vacancy on the United States Supreme Court, those liberties hang in the balance (you know scales of justice and all that). The sanctity of life (except for executing possibly innocent bad guys and I have no problemo with that), marriage (gay cows are out the barn already), religious liberty (aka an excuse to exercise their bigotry to some), and the Second Amendment (how horrible if I can’t make machine gun bacon anymore) are at risk.

The American people must have a voice in deciding the next Supreme Court Justice (I forget exactly where that is in the Constitution), and accordingly, I will continue to fulfill my constitutional duty (other than actually bothering to show up to do the job I was elected to do) by advising that the Senate should not consider any replacement nominated by President Obama (or in other words – ignore my constitutional duty to advise and consent). 

“Justice Scalia was a lion of the law (he literally loved to stalk, kill and eat plaintiff’s lawyers),” said Sen. Cruz. “He was someone I knew for 20 years (although he didn’t remember me working for the Court). He was brilliant. He was principled. He singlehandedly changed the course of American law (Yes, he actually won many 1-8 decisions just by the sheer force of his personality). I’ve said before, like Ronald Reagan was to the presidency (except that we all know he couldn’t get elected dog catcher in today’s GOP), so Justice Scalia was to the Supreme Court (well, except for that whole being senile at the end part). For 80 years it has been the practice that the Senate has not confirmed any nomination made during an election year, and we shouldn’t make an exception now (notice how I have subtly changed that argument to get around the fact that Anthony Kennedy was confirmed 97-0 in the last year of Reagan’s presidency, but I am guessing you aren’t paying very close attention to that fact or the 15 other Supreme Court Justices who were confirmed in an election year going all the way back to George Washington – the founding fathers were really morons to let that happen).

Is Dan Patrick Advising Texas Officials to Ignore the Law of the Land?

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (TP-Texas) apparently wants the advice of Attorney General Ken Paxton about the options available to state officials who have a “conflict of conscience” now that gay marriage has been legalized nationwide by the US Supreme Court.

“(The gay marriage ban) could be struck down or altered by our nation’s highest court,If that should happen, county clerks and justices of the peace could be forced to subjugate their sincerely held religious beliefs. The practical reality of this conflict will occur throughout the state.”

In his own letter Thursday, Paxton urged county clerks to hold off on issuing marriage licenses to gay couples until his office has had a chance to analyze any decision from the high court.

These officials and the County Clerks who issue marriage licenses take an oath of office to uphold the law.  Does this mean only laws they approve of?  Does this mean they can nullify the law based on their religious beliefs?  Do your jobs or step aside and let someone who will take over. Otherwise, let the lawsuits roll.