Monday, June 29, 2015

The Other Important Things Supreme Court Ruled

Although gay rights and healthcare are of critical importance to many Americans, there were a number of decisions passed by the Supreme Court this term.  Because they generally haven't gotten attention, here is a list of them, with summaries and links to the decisions.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Supreme Court Rules 5-4 on Texas Ban on Confederate License Plates

The Sons of Confederate Veterans plate design that started the issue.
The Supreme Court ruled today that license plate designs represent state speech and not personal speech, and consequentially that the Texas DMV has the right to reject submitted specialty plate designs for ideological reasons.  In a truly rare turn, the swing vote was not Kennedy, who voted with the conservatives.  Instead it was Thomas, who voted against the conservatives and with the liberals for possibly the first time in his life.

In April 2011, the Texas DMB board did something it rarely does – it rejected a specialty plate design.  In this case, it was offered by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, ("SCV") and it featured a “Confederate battle flag” (incorrectly asserted as such – it was the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia).  They were initially deadlocked, but then civil rights groups caught wind and it rapidly turned to a unanimous rejection.  Then the SCV sued.

SCV was good to go on the appeal, as the appellate court ruled that the rejection amounted to the state inserting its own speech into the speech of its citizens.  The Supreme Court reversal is an unusual one, in that it distinguishes itself from many precedents preventing the government from asserting its own speech into the speech of its citizens.  In this case, license plates, which are a feature of a vehicle, must have a design approved of by the State.

The New York Times reports that the flag does appear on license plates in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.  It is not clear if any of those states will ban those designs now that the Federal Supreme Court has made clear that doing so passes First Amendment review.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Pro Doc Summer Edition 2015 Ready for Downloading

The Summer 2015 access to ProDoc is available for download now.  Current students, staff and faculty of South Texas College of Law can access the download information in Stanley under the library tab in the Electronic Resources channel.  

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Solutions to the end of the Texas Subsequent History Table

This is just a reminder that as of October 2014 Thomson Reuters ceased publication of the Texas Subsequent History Table. Practicing attorneys may be accustomed to using this publication to determine how the Texas Supreme Court or Court of Criminal Appeals disposed of an appeal from an intermediate appellate court. The Fred Parks Library has the publication up to the most recent edition, which was 2014.

So what are your options now?

While not everyone will see the solution as ideal, Thomson Reuters is recommending attorneys use KeyCite. The Fred Parks Law Library staff would like to remind our alumni that we have a limited version of WestlawNext available for in-library use where one can use KeyCite to find the disposition of a case. The Harris County Law Library also has public patron access to WestlawNext and, both of which have citator services that allow individuals to find the disposition of a case.