The State of Texas: SCOTUS Decides Two Major Texas Cases
Plus: No charges for the cop who body-slammed a girl at a McKinney pool party, and new census data shows the next generation of Texans is incredibly diverse.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I have more clients than I really know how to deal with. It’s definitely been good for business. People see me and point, and some leave funny voicemails on my phone. But I take my cases very seriously, and my clients know that.”
—Bryan Wilson, a criminal law attorney in Fort Worth, to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Wilson, who also goes by “the Texas Law Hawk,” gained viral notoriety last year for releasing a series of rather wild video advertisements. His newest commercial is in the same vein, this time exploring the subject of boating sobriety tests. While some may find his methods shocking and aesthetically unpleasant, Wilson is also clearly a master of performance art. The high-brow critique of Wilson’s avant-garde ads would draw parallels to Dadaism, while the girls-in-bikinis-on-boats imagery calls to mind a certain New York rapper’s famous music video. Art or not, the ads certainly grab your attention.
Big Day in D.C.
The U.S. Supreme Court dropped a couple of huge decisions for Texas-centered cases yesterday: SCOTUS sided with the University of Texas in a case that challenged the school’s affirmative action program, but then, in a deadlocked vote, blocked the state’s challenge to President Barack Obama’s sweeping executive action on immigration. With regards to the former, according to the Texas Tribune the 4-3 ruling in Fisher v. the University of Texas was “a major—and surprising—win for affirmative action supporters.” The case began way back in 2008, when Sugar Land Abigail Fisher was denied admission to UT, she filed a lawsuit claiming she was discriminated against based on her race (she is white), and that preference was given to minority candidates who were supposedly less academically qualified could gain admission. (Fisher has since generated her own hashtag: #BeckyWithTheBadGrades.) SCOTUS voting to uphold UT’s system is a pretty big deal—analysts are already calling this a landmark case, and one Harvard law professor told the New York Times that this is the most important ruling in terms of “racial inclusion and educational diversity” since Brown vs. Board of Education.
Meanwhile, the decision in the Texas-led fight against Obama’s executive action on immigration was one sentence long. As the San Antonio Current put it, “With just nine words, the U.S. Supreme Court dashed the hopes of millions of undocumented immigrants hoping to stall their deportation.” Obama’s order was issued in 2014, and Texas sued shortly thereafter, joining 16 other states in a claim that Obama overstepped his authority. Thursday’s SCOTUS deadlock kicks the case back to the federal appellate court that upheld a Brownsville judge’s 2015 ruling to block the order. According to the Tribune, the case could make its way back to the highest court in the country, so the tie makes 2016’s presidential election—and the vacant SCOTUS slot that will likely be decided by the new commander-in-chief—even more important.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Eric Casebolt, the McKinney police officer who was caught on video aggressively throwing down a bikini-clad teenage African-American girl before pointing a gun at a few teens who attempted to protect her, was no-billed by a Colin County grand jury on Thursday, according to the Dallas Morning News. Casebolt’s extreme reactions to a rowdy pool party in a suburban neighborhood last summer looked bad on tape (it did not help that, at one point, he did a barrel-roll for no clear reason), and the officer resigned shortly after video of the incident went viral. His own police chief called Casebolt’s actions “indefensible.” His attorneys claim he just had a “stressful” day prior to responding to a call from neighbors that kids at the pool party had gotten out of control. It’s unclear what evidence led to the no-bill, but the family of the girl in the incident plans to file civil rights and personal injury lawsuits on Monday, according to the Morning News.
#Brexit, but for Cats
The City Council in White Settlement has, for some odd reason, voted to get rid of a beloved cat that lives in the city’s library. Now, supporters of Browser the cat say they’ll try to force a referendum in November, setting the stage for a contentious vote that could forever alter the very fabric of the White Settlement Public Library and send shockwaves through the international economy. Okay, maybe it’s not that big a deal, but still. Browser’s been chilling in the stacks for six years now, and he’s never done anything to warrant eviction. White Settlement’s mayor says the down-vote is the result of one council member’s, ahem, cattiness, claiming this is all because another city employee wasn’t allowed to keep a pet at work. “That cat doesn’t have anything to do with whether somebody can have their puppy at City Hall,” Mayor Ron White told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “That cat doesn’t hurt anybody. … The council just went out and did this on their own because they don’t like cats.” According to the community newspaper Grizzly Detail, there was an “outpouring of support” for Browser at the council meeting, including 618 petition signatures, but the council still voted 2-1 to shoo the feline out of the door. Browser, a former shelter cat, now has 30 days to find a new place to lay his furry head.
Recently released U.S. Census data shows that 68 percent of Texans under the age of 19 are non-white, a stark contrast of the racial makeup among Texans 65 and older, according to the Texas Tribune. This confirms what we’ve known for a while—the demographics of Texas are rapidly changing. The state’s total populations of white, black and Hispanic folks went up across the board last year, but according to the Tribune, the Hispanic population grew the fastest and “the overall share of white Texans continued to drop slightly.”Almost half of the younger crop of Texans are Hispanic, compared to just 22 percent of the 65-and-up crowd. The data also showed that the Rio Grande Valley’s Starr County again led the country with a 95.8 percent Hispanic makeup. Hays County, near Austin, saw the state’s highest percentage growth of its Hispanic population between 2010 and 2015, at 31 percent. Montgomery County, outside Houston, was not far behind, with a 30 percent jump in Hispanic residents.
WHAT WE’RE READING
They’re not the Chicago Cubs, but the Texan-led Congressional Republican baseball team may have been cursed… Texas Tribune
… until last night. The Hill
Studies say Laredo is weird, but “not weird like Austin is weird.” Laredo Morning-Times
Texans, take note: if you walk across hot coals, you’re probably going to get burned. WFAA
You can now get Alamo-themed specialty license plates. KVUE