FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Austin Court of Appeals Repudiates Bush-Perry Position
Replacement of Confederate Plaques at Supreme Court Building Violated Law
In a legal controversy going back to George W. Bush’s second term as governor, the 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin handed Mr. Bush and his gubernatorial successor, Rick Perry, a stinging repudiation on Friday.
The appellate court ruled that the state acting through the executive department did not follow state law in replacing plaques dedicating the Texas Supreme Court Building to Texas Confederate soldiers.
In Strybos and Texas Division Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc. v. Rick Perry, et al, the Court stated, “We render judgment declaring that the appellees' (State’s) installation of the new dedication plaque without Texas Historical Commission approval violated Texas Government Code section 2166.501.
The lawsuit, originating in 2000, resulted when then Gov. Bush ordered two plaques removed from the Supreme Court building under pressure from the NAACP. The plaques were removed the night of Friday, June 9, 2000 between 5:00 P.M. and 11:00 P.M. according to work orders made public during the suit.
The plaques had been placed in the building’s lobby soon after its construction in 1962 because the state had used money from the Confederate veterans pension fund for constructing that building and a number of others in Austin.
Ray James of College Station, Texas Division Commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) characterized the ruling as a “great victory.” Referring to Bush’s orders to replace the plaques, James declared, “No man, not even the Governor of Texas, can take the law into his own hands. Even he must follow the proper procedure.”
“Some folks at the state may think they won this case,” he continued. Shaking his head, James countered, “Any citizen in the state can tell you that the SCV won because the State is paying the SCV’s attorney’s fees In our legal system, the loser pays the winner.”
The proper procedure, according to the Court’s opinion, was to “obtain the approval of the Texas Historical Commission regarding the form, dimensions, and substance of, and inscriptions or illustrations on” any replacement plaque. No such approval was sought.
The replacement was characterized by the Sons of Confederate Veterans as “politically correct” and so ambiguous as to violate the law’s requirements.
While the Court’s opinion allows the removal of the original plaques which the plaintiffs had sought to restore to the building, James dismissed the importance of any such holding. “We won all important points,” he declared. “The Historical Commission as required by law, not some nameless bureaucrat and not the governor, is the only one who can decide what the dedicatory plaques should say.”
James vowed that the battle for an appropriate dedicatory plaque in conformity with state law would shift now to the Texas Historical Commission. “What we sought in the lawsuit was for the State of Texas to obey the law,” he said, “and the State will have to do that with this decision.”
Commander Ray James (979) 777-0502; email@example.com
Joe Ginn, Division Judge Advocate (830) 833-1308; firstname.lastname@example.org