Quote of the Day
“It’s tacky as hell.”
–Lifelong atheist Patrick Greene to Fox News, regarding a Corpus Christi religious group’s plan to build the largest Christian cross in the Western Hemisphere alongside Interstate 37. Greene filed a lawsuit last week in an attempt to halt construction.
March Madness — The first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament starts on Thursday, and it has a heavy dose of Texas. Five teams from across the state are competing this year, which is quite the feat considering three years ago the Lone Star State was totally shutout from the tournament. Texas A&M, University of Texas, Baylor, Texas Tech, and Stephen F. Austin all made it to the big dance. A&M, Baylor, and Texas are even in the same section of the bracket, so there could be an all-Texas matchup as early as the second round if UT and A&M both advance as expected. Of course, everyone in the tournament is fighting for a chance to reach the Final Four in Houston, so it’s a very Texas-y tournament overall. A&M, the third seed in the West, is the highest ranked of the Texan bunch, but if they want to reach Houston they’ll likely have to get past second-seeded Oklahoma, which went 7-2 against teams from Texas during the regular season. President Barack Obama seems to have faith in the Aggies, though, since he picked them to reach the Final Four. The women’s tournament starts tomorrow, and first seed Baylor is a favorite to win it all. In even more basketball news: it’s the fiftieth anniversary of Texas Western’s (now known as UTEP) historic 1966 NCAA title, which the school won with five African-American players in its starting lineup.
Changing of the Robe — On Tuesday, President Obama announced his nomination to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by Antonin Scalia, who kicked the bucket at a West Texas ranch last month. Obama chose Merrick Garland, a moderate, likely hoping it would appease Republicans who were threatening to block any appointment. Still, important Texans reacted exactly how you would expect. Ted Cruz just wasn’t having it: “We cannot afford to lose the Supreme Court for generations to come by nominating or confirming someone that a dealmaker like Donald Trump would support. Washington dealmakers cannot be trusted with such crucial lifetime appointments,” the actual Washington dealmaker said in a statement. Governor Greg Abbott was similarly unimpressed. Abbott said in a press release that “[it] is essential that the Supreme Court vacancy be filled with a true Constitutionalist in the form of Justice Scalia,” which is both unsurprising and a little scary. What sort of voodoo is Abbott cooking up to create a “form of Justice Scalia”? Despite the trumped up concerns coming from Texas politicians, Garland is largely untested when it comes to the court issues that would have the biggest impact in this state. “He has not issued noteworthy rulings on cases involving affirmative action, abortion regulations or immigration,” the Texas Tribune wrote, before noting that Garland does have a history of generally supporting the Environmental Protection Agency, which Texas has sued a lot recently.
Speedy Justice —Three days after the off-duty cop shot and killed a sixteen-year old boy suspected of burglarizing a car in the Dallas County town of Addison, Farmers Branch police officer Ken Johnson was arrested and charged with murder. This certainly is not the norm when it comes to officer-involved shootings, and it’s currently unclear why investigators moved so quickly against Johnson when most shootings like this take forever to investigate, usually go before a grand jury, and hardly ever result in criminal charges against the officer. Johnson’s attorney told the Dallas Morning News that the department’s unusually fast action “can only be explained by the fact that my client is a black police officer.” Citing the ongoing investigation, all the police department would say last night is that there was “probable cause to make the arrest this evening.” According to the Morning News, police haven’t said whether the teen victim was armed, but they did say Johnson didn’t follow policy when he left the kid and a second teen at the scene riddled with bullets. The second teen survived, but his mother told Dallas’s Spanish-language Univision affiliate that “[his] face wasn’t visible because of the blood; his hands [were] full of holes where he placed his hands to cover himself.”