U.S. Supreme Court

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

A university professor predicts that the U.S. Supreme Court will rule against bans on same-sex marriage this week.

There has been a remarkable change in public opinion in the past five years, and the court will cause more tension if it votes in opposition, Sanford Levinson, professor of constitutional law and government, said. A 2013 study held by the Pew Research Center showed a majority of Americans endorse gay marriages — among those aged 18 to 29, support is as high as 70 percent. 

“Even four years ago, the court may have found that the safe thing to do was not intervene, but today politics are different,” Levinson said. “The court will get lots of applause, and many politicians will be ecstatic if the court takes this issue out of the 2016 race.”

The question is less about whether the court will affirm marriage equality and more about how, Levinson said. The court could focus on the purpose of marriage or the fourteenth amendment’s anti-discrimination clause. 

“[Illegality of] marriage is one illustration of discrimination against the LGBT community, and that would have more implications for a variety of laws that discriminate,” Levinson said. 

Although statistics show it is increasingly common for youths to support gay marriage, they should be conscious of the effort it took to get here, law student Louis Lobel said. 

“Don’t forget about the many LGBTQ people that suffered to get to this point,” Lobel said, who is vice president of OUTlaw, an LGBTQ student organization in the law school. “[Now,] nobody wants to be on the wrong side of history.” 

Many American corporations showed support for gay rights in March by opposing proposed legislation aiming to allow businesses to deny service to gay people. Levinson said this showed an unprecedented level of support for the LGBT community in American politics.

“These shifts by major businesses are influencing Republican candidates to come out against legislation designed to stop same-sex marriages,” Levinson said.

While the political climate is warming up to marriage equality, there are more issues politicians need to address on a state or national level, said Jordan Wilk, English junior and event coordinator for the QueerStudent Alliance. 

“The community still faces a variety of issues, such as youth homelessness after coming out to their families and murders and everyday violence of queer and trans people of color,” Wilk said. 

Suzanne Bryant (left) and Sarah Goodfriend hold up their marriage license after a press conference on Thursday afternoon. They became the first same-sex couple to marry in Texas on Thursday morning.
Photo Credit: Mariana Munoz | Daily Texan Staff

The Texas Supreme Court’s stay on the state’s same-sex marriage ban may remain in effect until the expected Supreme Court ruling this summer, according to Osler McCarthy, staff attorney for public information at the Texas Supreme Court.

“Somebody is going to rule on this, and it’s the U.S. Supreme Court, definitively, in three months,” McCarthy said. “So what the court has done is say, ‘Stop. Nobody move.’”

On Thursday, Travis County Judge David Wahlberg issued a single marriage license to Suzanne Bryant and Sarah Goodfriend. The two were granted the license and married, making them the first same-sex couple to marry in Texas.

The Texas Supreme Court issued a stay Thursday in response to a request by Attorney General Ken Paxton, halting all further same-sex marriages in the state. The stay did not include an end date, but it will presumably end with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling this summer. 

Courts issuing a stay are not required to provide an end date, according UT law professor F. Scott McCown.

“[The stay] would just be [over] when the court made its decision,” McCown said. 

Paxton submitted a petition Friday to the Texas Supreme Court asking that the court overturn Wahlberg’s ruling, potentially voiding Bryant and Goodfriend’s marriage. 

The couple’s attorney, Chuck Herring, said in a previous interview that Paxton’s petition will not successfully end the marriage since the marriage has already occurred.

“We all know the U.S. Supreme Court is the court that is going to decide any remaining issues concerning the constitutionality of same-sex marriage prohibition,” Herring said.

While McCarthy does not know if the petition can revoke the marriage, he said he thinks Paxton’s filing not be successful. 

“I believe the Attorney General believes this petition would invalidate that marriage license,” McCarthy said. “I don’t know if his mandamus petition really goes that far.” 

There are no immediate legal ramifications with Paxton’s opposition to Bryant and Goodfriend’s marriage, McCarthy said. 

“Down the long term, maybe,” McCarthy said. “Let’s say one dies, and the other comes in and says, ‘I am the person who inherits from my spouse,’ and someone else jumps in and says this is not a valid marriage.”

Rogelio Meza, Queer Student Alliance co-director and microbiology junior, said he agrees with McCarthy’s assessment. He said he thinks Texas’ Supreme Court will not legalize same-sex marriage independently. He thinks the decision to permit same-sex marriage will depend on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling this summer. 

“I’m very disappointed, yet, not surprised at Texas trying to stop same-sex marriage here in the state,” Meza said. “A couple already got married. Nothing happened. The world didn’t explode. I feel Texas is trying to hold on to that conservative ideal.” 

Marisa Kent, QSA co-director and marketing junior, said she was also not surprised by the ruling.

“It was a little frustrating because the ruling [allowing the marriage] was made for a specific reason, and for them to change the decision and say nothing is going to change until the U.S. Supreme Court makes a decision is frustrating,” Kent said. “It’s something that I knew the Texas government would do without any afterthought.”

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

Editor's note: This is part of a Point/Counterpoint series regarding Fisher v. University of Texas. To read the opposing viewpoint, click here. 

Fisher v. University of Texas, a 2013 case that began when Abigail Fisher, a rejected white applicant, sued the University in 2008 for violating the 14th Amendment, questions the validity of using race as a factor in school admissions. Unfortunately for Fisher, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently declined to rehear her case after ruling in July, for a second time, that UT’s use of race in its admissions policy is constitutional, leaving her to appeal, again, to the U.S. Supreme Court. Whether the public agrees with Fisher’s stance in the case is irrelevant; she has the right to see the highest U.S. court for a second time.

While Fisher claims she was the victim of discrimination in the holistic review process applied to UT applicants not admitted to the University through the Top Ten Percent Rule, her application just wasn’t enough to secure a spot with the 42 white students who were admitted despite their class rank. The University claimed it would not have accepted her even if she were any other race. Hailing from a Longhorn family and growing up with the aspiration to follow in their footsteps, I understand her sense of injustice. Critics said the courts that ruled in favor of the University were not strict enough in their examination, affirming the University’s case without considering Fisher’s fairly. Both Fisher and Edward Blum, who funds the case through his legal defense fund, simply want a hearing by an en banc court (meaning the full 15-judge panel would hear the case) that would examine the case without bias, rather than the skeleton courts they’d appealed to before in which only three judges heard the case.

This case is reminiscent of the famous 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger case in which a white student applied to University of Michigan Law School and was denied under similar circumstances and the 1978 University of California v. Bakke case in which a white student experienced something similar in his application to medical school. Fisher is the Grutter/Bakke of our generation but isn’t getting the same opportunity for retrial in high courts as they did. All three cases question affirmative action policies as a violation of Equal Protection Clause and Civil Rights Act of 1964. All three include instances in which a white student wasn’t accepted over minority students. However, in this day and age, affirmative action is being called into question where it was arguably more necessary in the past. So, as the two before it, Fisher’s case deserves an end at the Supreme Court.

Most of all, the court should rehear her case in order to put it to rest for good. Six years and several appeals later, Fisher and her family don’t seem to be letting up at all. Although Fisher has already earned a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University and currently works as a financial analyst in Austin, her rejection from UT isn’t something she’s taking lightly, even to this day. Having the highest of courts to tell her she’s wrong would not only end this particular debate, but emphasize to students of every race the importance of working hard to get accepted to your school of choice.

Fisher and her supporters seem to be confused about the fact that universities can’t let everyone in. Class rank, test scores, essay quality, resume and recommendations all go into the review process and everyone, regardless of race, must exceed certain requirements in order to earn admission to the school. If the Supreme Court agreed to rehear the case, and even the more conservative members ruled in favor of upholding diversity over mediocre academic achievements, perhaps the young people of the nation would be motivated to work harder in their studies. It would reinforce the idea to Americans that belonging to a minority race is typically less helpful and more hindering to academic and career success.

Racial basis for admission is being challenged by many in modern society, but the strict scrutiny of the Supreme Court deciding on the Fisher case could put a legal end to the question once and for all.

Griffin is a journalism freshman from Houston. Follow her on Twitter @JazmynAlynn.

Two days before early voting, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to uphold Texas’ controversial voter identification law for the 2014 elections.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the law Saturday, six to three, with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor voting against.

On Tuesday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted to reinstate the voter ID law, known as Senate Bill 14. The law, which requires voters to bring a valid photo ID to the polls, will continue to be enforced with the Supreme Court’s decision. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ruled the law was unconstitutional less than two weeks ago, equating it with a “poll tax,” and saying it oppressed minority voters. 

Ginsburg wrote a six-page dissent on her reasons for overturning the previous decision to enforce the voter ID law, saying the Court of Appeals’ decision was made for the wrong reasons.

“Refusing to evaluate the defendants’ likelihood of success on the merits and, instead relying exclusively on the potential disruption of Texas’ electoral processes, the Fifth Circuit showed little respect for this Court’s established stay standards,” Ginsburg wrote.

Lauren Bean, spokeswoman for the Texas Attorney General’s office, released a statement praising the Supreme Court’s decision.

“We are pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed that Texas’ voter ID law should remain in effect for the upcoming election,” Bean said. “The state will continue to defend the voter ID law and remains confident that the district court’s misguided ruling will be overturned on the merits. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that voter ID laws are a legal and sensible way to protect the integrity of elections.”

While the law will be in effect for this year’s elections, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will continue to review its constitutionality.

This photo taken June 30, 2014, shows demonstrators reacting outside the Supreme Court in Washington after hearing the court's decision on the Hobby Lobby case. The next difficult question likely to be resolved by the court: how much distance from an immoral act is enough? Religious-oriented nonprofit groups already could opt out of covering the contraceptives. But they say the accommodation provided by the Obama administration still does not go far enough because, though not on the hook financially, they remain complicit in the provision of some or all government-approved contraceptives to women covered by their plans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Rounding out a term of controversial decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling June 30 on the case of Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. Much of the disapproval the ruling generated stems not from well-informed analyses. Rather, Americans have once again sounded a battle cry without burdening themselves with the weight of facts or the myriad of legislative alternatives available for the national government.

In the wake of the decision, Americans everywhere leapt to enact real social change, or more accurately, to the nearest laptop computer to tweet out our unvarnished opinions. Scores of GIF-ridden Buzzfeed articles were written, each containing longer lists than before. “How could the court disenfranchise our women this way,” Americans raged, copying and pasting the URL into a new status. Respected journalists took to the air, quoting the latest grim statistics: 100 percent of MSNBC viewers hate Hobby Lobby. Even UT students sounded off. “I definitely believe the Court screwed up,” contends Kelvin Kim, fourth-year student at UT. “To outlaw contraception [...] for certain people? This isn’t the 1940’s. Women have rights.”

It seems that in the wake of this shocking court decision, few have taken even a passing glance at the facts. To consult the source is an arduous task, especially when far more entertaining versions can be told by Kristen Wiig juggling a litter of golden retriever puppies, or by an existential Thought Catalog entry. Trust me. The internet is a shiny and interesting place, and it’s easy to get stuck in a hashtag-generating wormhole from time to time. But sooner or later, that hard-hitting article from The New Yorker turns into one proclaiming that God has been found in ancient Arab DNA, and the music screeches to a halt as you realize you have been duped once again by a completely reputable-looking source. Americans have once again been taking the easy way out, and we’re all suffering enormously for it.

So here’s some background on Burwell for those of you who might not know: this case involved a clash of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the national government. The RFRA prohibits the government from substantially burdening a person’s First Amendment rights unless it can be proven that the cost furthers a compelling government interest. (For all you constitutional-law-lovers out there, this test is known as “strict scrutiny”). The second prong of the test requires that mandates constitute “least restrictive means” of serving an interest. And under the second prong of this test, this newfound “right to contraception” ultimately failed. This doesn’t mean that no one gets birth control or that corporations have the same rights as humans, or whatever the slippery slopes and the hyperbolic titles of the Internet may have led you to believe. It just means that where there is a clash of someone’s First Amendment-granted rights versus current legislation (largely subject to the party in power, by the way), the law of the land is going to win every time. Keep in mind this is the Court’s job: to uphold the Constitution, not to act as policy-implementers or legislators.

Another fact worth noting is this is not the only way in which the government could have chosen to pursue a nationwide “right to contraception”. Writing for the majority in Burwell, Justice Samuel Alito acknowledges the number of less restrictive methods available to Congress, including allowing religious corporations to be afforded the same exemptions as religious non-profits. Here, no women are denied rights. Rather, the group-health-insurance issuer bears the cost of the coverage, without imposing cost-sharing requirements on the organization. “Although this procedure requires the issuer to bear the cost of these services,” Alito writes, “HHS has determined this obligation will not impose any net expense to issuers; because cost is less than or equal to cost savings.”It seems that this is not the end of the road for Christian contraceptive coverage. In fact, it is just the beginning.

And if it seems though deciding in favor of religion is unfair, think about what other rights are protected under that good ole’ First Amendment. Your right to say *mostly* whatever you want, for example. My right to write this column. The freedom to live and breathe and speak in peace, knowing that the things we say cannot be prohibited at whim by whoever is in power. I think that’s pretty great. And I think that we need to maintain more of a conscious awareness of those rights before we rage against a Court for acting in protection of them. Asserting this right does not entail undermining the right women have to contraception--the court asserts many alternatives to provide these protections. But they are careful to ensure any amendment-restrictive mandates are pursued through the “least restrictive” manner: a condition under which the act ultimately fails.

We all get a little misinformed. But if there’s anything to take away from this column, it should be this: Please read the case yourself. If you are passionate and interested in women’s rights, then please protect them at all costs. Do what you have to do, align with a political party and make some changes! Go, fight, roar. But please, before you take up arms, take a listen to the oral arguments, or a look at the case itself. This is complicated stuff, and as a nation, I think we do ourselves a pretty large disservice by acting otherwise.

Deppisch is a government senior from League City.

The lead sentence of a Sept. 11, 1984 Daily Texan article reads, “Denouncing the system that rejected his final pleas, Timothy Baldwin early Monday died in Louisiana’s electric chair for beating an elderly, blind neighbor to death with a frying pan.”

According to the article, Baldwin had been accused of beating to death Mary James Peters, the godmother of his youngest son, with a telephone, a skillet and a stool in 1978. Baldwin, whose appeals were rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court, maintained until his death that he was innocent. 

“I’ve always tried to be a good sport when I’ve lost at something,” Baldwin said. “And I see no reason not to leave this world with the same policy.”

A sheriff’s deputy swore during the trail that officers had beaten and tortured a confession out of Baldwin, and, by the time defense lawyers found a hotel receipt proving that he had been 100 miles away on the night of the murder, it was already too late.

Capital punishment has become an issue of even greater contention today. With approximately five times the number of prisoners executed than in second-place Virginia, Texas leads all other U.S. states in number of executed prisoners since 1976. As of Wednesday’s execution of prisoner Ray Jasper, Texas has executed 511 prisoners — all via lethal injection — since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1976 decision to reinstate the death penalty.  

Jaspers, an aspiring rapper who slit a music studio manager’s throat in 1998 during a recording session before an accomplice killed the victim by inflicting 25 stab wounds, was executed last night around 6 p.m. He had written a letter condemning the United States’ education and penal systems for their treatment of people of color.

“Under the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, all prisoners in America are considered slaves,” Jaspers wrote. “We look at slavery like it’s a thing of the past, but you can go to any penitentiary in this nation and you will see slavery.”

Debate continues over whether retributive justice is the result of mere blood thirst or human rights can actually be protected by what many would argue to be, paradoxically, a violation of human rights. 

UT law student Kim Dusseldorp said she feels that, although the laws of a nation must represent the norms of that society, a government should not preach by example that capital punishment is warrantable, considering there are other punishments that suffice, such as life without parole.

“I feel the death penalty has more to do with vengeance than justice,” Dusseldorp said. “It is about how civilized people are. It is inhumane and [involves] lowering yourself to the level of the convict. … There is also no proof that capital punishment has a deterrent effect on other potential criminals.”

Because Rashad Owens, the intoxicated driver charged with plowing into a crowd of festivalgoers Thursday during South By Southwest, is, according to APD, likely to be charged with capital murder — making him eligible for the death penalty — it’s possible that issues regarding capital punishment will become even more relevant in the coming months.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Updated (Thursday 4:12 p.m.): One day after U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled Texas' ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, the state of Texas filed a notice of appeal in federal court contesting Orlando's ruling.

Texas attorney general Greg Abbott, the presumptive Republican candidate for governor, and current governor Rick Perry were both named as defendants in the appeal, as well as David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services. 

In a statement released Wednesday, Abbott announced his intentions to appeal the ruling and said the case would ultimately go to a higher court.

"Texas will begin [the process] by appealing today's ruling to the Fifth Circuit," Abbott said in the statement. "The ultimate decision about Texas law will be made by the Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court."

Abbott said ultimately, he believes defining marriage is up to individual states to decide.

"The Supreme Court has ruled over and over that States have the authority to define and regulate marriage," Abbott said. "The Texas constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman. If the Fifth Circuit honors those precedents, then today's decision should be overturned and the Texas Constitution will be upheld." 

Original story (Wednesday 2:32 p.m.): On Wednesday, San Antonio-based U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled a ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, though the ruling will not take effect until it can be reviewed on appeal.

Garcia, who sits on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, said his decision is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that held the federal government must allow married same-sex couples to receive federal benefits.

“After careful consideration, and applying the law as it must, this Court holds that Texas’ prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and due process,” Garcia said. “Texas’ current marriage laws deny homosexual couples the right to marry, and, in doing so, demean their dignity for no legitimate reason.”

The case was put forth by Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman, two lesbian women from Austin who sought recognition for an out-of-state marriage license, and Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes, two gay men from Plano who want to get married in Texas. De Leon got her master’s degree from UT-San Antonio, while Dimetman is an alumna of the UT School of Law.

Garcia now joins five other federal judges who have ruled same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional in Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, California and Kentucky.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge John Heyburn ruled that Kentucky’s state ban on gay marriage violated gay and lesbian citizens’ guarantee for equal protection under the law.

“Kentucky’s laws treat gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them,” Heyburn wrote in his opinion.

In Virginia, Justice Arenda Wright Allen also overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Like Garcia, Allen stayed the execution of her ruling pending review in an appeals court.

In June, in a 5-4, the Supreme Court overturned a part of the Defense of Marriage Act and ruled the federal government could not deny recognition to same-sex couples whose marriages are legally recognized by the state.

According Greg Abbott, Texas attorney general and favorite to be the Republican nominee for governor, the process to appeal Garcia’s decision will begin in the Fifth Circuit.

“Because the judge has stayed his own decision, his ruling has no immediate practical effect,” Abbott said in a statement. “Instead, the ultimate decision about Texas law will be made by the Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Abbott said the U.S. Supreme Court’s precedent gives states the authority to regulate marriage.

“The Texas Constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman,” Abbott said. “If the Fifth Circuit honors those precedents, then today’s decision should be overturned and the Texas Constitution will be upheld.”

A U.S. district judge determined parts of the state’s most recent abortion restriction bill unconstitutional Monday. 

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel partially granted a preliminary injunction filed by Planned Parenthood against Texas House Bill No. 2. The bill, which calls for strengthened regulations on abortion, is set to go into effect Tuesday, except for the requirement struck down by Yeakel’s decision, which states doctors performing abortions are required to seek admitting privileges from nearby hospitals.

The bill has been the subject of significant controversy since before its passage in July, when it prompted a 13-hour filibuster by then-state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, who was attempting to block its passage. The bill also resulted in protests and counter-protests at the Capitol. 

Yeakel’s opinion stated the bill’s admitting-privileges requirement is a hindrance to women seeking abortions because it “impose[s] an undue burden on patients.”  Additionally, Yeakel concluded the bill’s restrictions on medication-induced abortion do not place such a burden on patients unless a doctor deems it necessary for the life or health of the mother. The bill did recognize the higher dosage, off-label use of abortion drugs is completely safe.

UT sociology professor Joseph Potter, who conducted research used by Planned Parenthood in its preliminary conjunction, said he was glad the admitting privileges requirement of the bill was struck down. In his research, Potter concluded the previous requirement would adversely affect roughly 22,000 women in the state who would no longer be able to get the abortions they sought. 

“I am of course pleased that the admitting privileges requirement was struck down, as it would have led to the immediate loss of services in a great many places around the state,” Potter said.

Lauren Bean, spokeswoman for the Texas Attorney General’s Office, said Texas has already appealed the court’s ruling in the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The court upheld part of the law and enjoined part of the law,” Bean said. “As everyone — including the trial court judge — has acknowledged, this is a matter that will ultimately be resolved by the appellate courts or the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Savanna Faulkner, president of Texas Students for Life, an anti-abortion organization at UT, said that she wasn’t expecting the bill’s restrictions to be stricken down by the court.

“I’m really shocked that parts of the bill were deemed unconstitutional,” Faulkner said. “I know that we will be able to appeal it in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The bill made higher standards for women and their doctors, so it would be helpful to women’s health.”

The court also ruled that the plaintiffs for the case — Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers — will have their costs of court recovered. Renee Paradis, a lawyer representing several plaintiffs in the case, said she was pleased with the results of the case.

“I think it’s a good day for women in Texas,” Paradis said. “It’s really important that the admitting privileges provision was dropped because it ensures meaningful access to abortion services for Texas women.”

Only yesterday, we wrote an editorial concerning the abysmal job the Texas state government has done of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In the editorial, which argued that Texas should be held accountable for its inadequate regulation of pollution, we mentioned that the chief offender — the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality — wanted the question of whether it was required to comply with national emissions regulations to be decided in a higher court.

It seems they’ll get their wish.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would hear Texas’ challenge to federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. Texas, along with Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and the American Petroleum Institute, claims that the Clean Air Act covers only toxic air pollutants and does not grant the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to penalize the emission of gases that contribute to the dangerous warming of the atmosphere.

The Court declined to hear several of the states’ other appeals, which will allow the EPA to continue regulating emissions from motor vehicles and certifies the EPA’s assessment of greenhouse gases as a public health risk — invalidating the plaintiffs’ arguments to the contrary. The question they did choose to debate is whether the EPA’s authority to regulate motor vehicles also extends to stationary sources of greenhouse gases, like power plants and oil refineries.

We’re not qualified enough to sift through the legal nuances of the Clean Air Act and determine the limits of federal jurisdiction. But we do know that if the federal government is not able to regulate the massive amounts of greenhouse gases pumped into Texas skies, our state certainly won’t do so itself. The Texas government has consistently shown support for big business rather than the environment  — Texas leads the nation in greenhouse gas emissions,  producing more than the next two states combined — and cannot be trusted to responsibly restrain major polluters from wantonly damaging our planet.

Hopefully, the Court will recognize the danger of letting Texas’ pollution continue unabated and allow the federal government to intervene.

William Allensworth, attorney and adjunct law professor at UT, argued Wednesday before the U.S. Supreme Court in a case involving contract law and legal forum selection.

Allensworth argued on the side of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas as a representative of J-Crew Management, Inc. 

In 2009, the Atlantic Marine Construction Co. hired J-Crew to provide materials and work for the construction of a children’s center in Fort Hood. After the project’s completion, J-Crew sued in a federal court in Austin for more than $160,000 the company claimed it was still owed. 

Atlantic Marine contested the jurisdiction of the lawsuit because of a contractual agreement that all litigation should be pursued in Virginia.

Allensworth argued the lawsuit should be handled in Texas courts because the bulk of work performed took place in Texas, so Texas courts seemed the logical selection for legal arbitration.

“[The western district of Texas] is where we performed our work, where the project’s located, where all the witnesses reside and where virtually all of the evidence is located,” Allensworth told the justices, according to a transcript of oral argument released by the Court.

Justice Elena Kagan expressed skepticism, saying both parties in a lawsuit must adhere to a pre-negotiated forum, even if another forum seems more convenient.

“[You had] a negotiated contract, that you accepted in convenience, and … you got something for your … acceptance of inconvenience,” Kagan said. “The end. You have to live with your contract.”

Allensworth will know the decision in the case by early July, when the justices announce decisions from the October oral arguments.