Federal Court: State Acted Within Authority on SCV Plates
I was sure wrong about that one. While I thought the case would turn on the Equal Protection Clause (because the state issues specialty plates to everyone and their dog already), and thus go in the SCV’s favor, the court rejected that notion, in part because the SCV has recourse to other avenues (such as direct action by the Lege) to get that accomplished:
Although suggesting a petitioner for judicial relief should look to the legislative branch for assistance is usually the practical equivalent of there being no relief available, here the Texas Legislature can and frequently has approved a variety of plates — including controversial plates, such as ‘Choose Life’ — by direct legislative action.
As it happens, the Lege is in session in Austin right now, so there’ s six weeks left to get some action on this, if the Texas SCV chooses to go that route.
I also thought this, from the ruling, was interesting:
The SCV repeatedly argues the fact the Buffalo Soldiers plate was approved indicates SCV was subjected to viewpoint discrimination. . . . [The] SCV speculates Native Americans would be offended by the Buffalo Soldiers plate, because of the role played by African-American troops in the frontier wars of the nineteenth century. However, the record does not support this assertion: in contrast to the chorus of negative public comments raised against the SCV’s plate, there appears to have been no significant objection to the Buffalo Soldiers plate, rendering SCV’s assertion the Buffalo Soldiers plate is equally derogatory at best purely speculative.
This encapsulates what I was trying to get at when I wrote this post. Whether the SCV thinks that the Buffalo Soldiers “should” be viewed as offensive to Native Americans as the CBF is to some others, the evidence that that’s the case just isn’t there. It was a weak argument to begin with, and while I’m surprised at the court’s decision, I’m glad they saw that part of it the same way.
Still, it’s a surprising outcome I didn’t expect. On to the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans!