The State of Texas: December 10, 2015
Eva Longoria holds the key to Corpus Christi (and to our hearts), SCOTUS arguments get super awkward, and the campus gun performance art controversy
There’s a good case to be made that though we all might want to claim Beyoncé as Texas’s greatest contemporary export, Eva Longoria is ultimately the one keeping it real. The actress has shown her home state a lot of love in recent years, and seems to be having fun doing it. And it’s always great when Corpus Christi— particularly Boat n’Net—get shoutouts. Longoria was in town to receive the key to the city (and to our hearts).
Gun (Side) Show — It was a busy day for news about the University of Texas-Austin. The Internet lost its collective mind when two gun-rights groups announced that they were planning a mock mass shooting on the campus in order to teach people abou the dangers of fanatical advocacy groups. Or, you know, something like that. “No real guns will be used in the demonstration … Rather, the group will utilize cardboard cutouts of firearms during the event,” writes the Houston Chronicle, attempting to explain the odd idea. “It’s basically going to be a hostage situation where people are shot and then the one person with a concealed handgun will come in and save the situation and reduce the body count,” said [organizer Murdoch] Pizgatti. “It’s pretty much going to be portraying the incidents in gun free zones and why they happen. The bad guys don’t obey gun free zone signs and good people do.” Organizers of this LARPing game had also planned to simulate the sound of gun fire with bullhorns for the more than 100 people who RSVP’d to the event, which is set for Saturday. UT, meanwhile, was having none of it. As the groups aren’t associated with any students, “officials said a gun rights demonstration planned for this weekend could be considered criminal trespass,” writes the Statesman. As the Austin Chronicle notes, “many students will be studying for and taking final exams, a time that’s stressful enough without gun sounds being blared over bullhorns.” Not to be deterred by common decency or criminal trespassing charges, the organizers have promised to still hold the mock mass shooting in the vicinity of UT, “as a backdrop,” something they can do since (drumroll for this Constitutional reference…) “theatrical performance art, such as this, is covered under the First Amendment freedom of speech.” How could this whole scenario get any weirder? How about a “mass farting” counter-demonstration that has apparently been organized, and is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.
Affirmative Actions — So how did day one of the second round of UT’s Supreme Court affirmative action case go? So awkwardly. Things that make perfect legal sense in a court of law don’t always translate well when trying to use the same logic in public, but Justice Anthony Scalia seems to have really gone above and beyond lawyerly ridiculousness, into, well some uncomfortable territory. During arguments, Scalia “openly questioned whether blacks who are admitted to quality, top-tier schools actually suffer because the courses are too advanced,” writes The Root. That comment was made in tandem with another suggesting blacks prefer going to less schools because the work isn’t as rigorous. There was also, as Slate notes, a very testy, personal exchange between Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Bert Rein, the plaintiff’s lawyer. The Atlantic, too, writes that “ill feeling was on full display Wednesday. Chief Justice John Roberts scoffed at the idea that racial diversity had any educational value.” Both the Slate and the Atlantic article have some more nuanced looks at the case. Not that the debate is incredibly uncomfortable. For as the Atlantic notes, “In the weird constitutional language of affirmative action, no one is allowed to say what they really mean.”
Denied — Once again, Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a temporary restraining order to stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Texas, and once again he was rebuffed. This one, as the Texas Tribune notes, “even shorter-lived than the first.” A U.S. District judge “rejected Paxton’s renewed request for a temporary restraining order barring nine Syrian refugees set to arrive in the state on Thursday. [U.S. District Judge David] Godbey’s ruling came just hours after Paxton asked for the order.” In making his case, Godbey apparently said there was no evidence that the refugees would be dangerous. “In rejecting the state’s request, Godbey wrote the state had not proved that the arrival of the refugees was a ‘substantial threat of irreparable injury’ nor that these nine refugees would commit ‘acts of terrorism’ in Texas.” The Washington Post points to much more bald-faced comments from the judge, who basically suggest that Paxton et al. are just making stuff up. “The Court finds that the evidence before it is largely speculative hearsay,” wrote the judge. “The [Texas Health and Human Services Commission, also responsible for the request] has failed to show by competent evidence that any terrorists actually have infiltrated the refugee program, much less that these particular refugees are terrorists intent on causing harm.” Legal experts still agree that its federal government that sets up refugee policies.