Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had a heck of a day yesterday. He was arraigned on felony charges in Tarrant County, lost his personal attorney in court due to “untenable” differences, and was rebuked by the Judge for not standing when addressing his honor.
But on the bright side (and halfway across the state), attorneys from his office successfully advised the University of Texas in its case to remove a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from the main mall of its campus.
The tiny courtroom was mostly filled with members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans who brought the case against the University of Texas. Their attorney compared the effort by students to relocate the statue to ISIS and the Taliban, but to no avail.
Ultimately, Travis County Judge Karin Crump denied the SCV a Temporary Injunction making way for the university to relocate the statue from its highly trafficked main mall. According to UT’s Dr. Gregory Vincent the statue will be removed “in the next few days.”
After students organized and petitioned UT’s President Greg Fenves, he decided to have the Davis statue relocated to the Briscoe Center, a world renowned history museum also on campus. Attempting to shutter the move, SCV wrongly claimed that Fenves did not have the authority to move the statue without the approval of the legislature or the State Preservation Board. Some SCV members even petitioned the Governor since he was a member of the latter, as well as an UT alum.
Additionally, SCV claimed that relocating the statue would violate the will of the Littlefield estate that granted a large sum of money to the university along with the set of statues. Judge Crump found this claim also lacked merit as the only requirement of the estate was that the statutes be displayed in a place of prominence…like the Briscoe Center.
This wasn’t the first victory against Sons of Confederate Veterans by Attorney General Ken Paxton. He celebrated his first win at the US Supreme Court when they ruled that the state could bar the confederate flag from its license plate. In an epic twist of the “states’ rights” argument, it was determined by SCOTUS that license plates are state speech and they have a right to limit it.
Ahhhh, just take in that cool Southern breeze of irony.
Kirk Lyons the attorney for SCV did not commit to appealing the decision, that would depend on funds and the will of his clients. I wouldn’t hold my breath though, his gofundme page isn’t anywhere near the $50,000 he was trying to raise.
He seemed to feel good about the fight they put up and acknowledged that the University of Texas the State Attorney General’s office were powerful institutions and formidable opponents.
What I found astonishing was the ability for these guys to play the victim card. “Sometimes you have got to be that Chinese student in front of those four tanks in Tiananmen Square,” Lyons said. Yes, he went there. I heard it with my own ears.
The issue isn’t likely to be completely over. Students had asked for the removal of all of the confederate statues, and the Daily Texan echoed many when it called for a statue of Herman Sweatt to be placed on Davis’ pedestal. Also, Senator Rodney Ellis has called on Governor Abbott to address the Confederate statues on the Capitol grounds. So far his pleas have been met with silence, but he did release a statement about Thursday’s victory.
“I’m pleased that, once again, UT can begin the process of removing the Jefferson Davis statue from the campus’ Main Mall. We shouldn’t glorify people whose main claim to historical relevance stems from their defense of human slavery.”
As am I, Senator Ellis, as am I.
Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.