This afternoon, the Texas House voted down a proposed constitutional amendment, SJR 13, that would have imposed a two-term limit on statewide officeholders (other than judges).
The vote was 61-80 and was not on party lines.
The amendment had cleared the Texas Senate earlier this session by a vote of 27-4.
I’m making a deal with you guys. Once the news calms down we’re going to spend a day posting nothing but positive uplifiting stories. We’ve had too much stuff like this lately and I know it’s very heavy.
But this is one of the heavier news periods at the moment, and sometimes everything hits all at once. — Ernie @ SFB
and it turns out the wife of a former justice of the peace is being charged with capital murder and held with a 10 million dollar bond and her husband, Eric Williams, is being investigated because he was making terrorist threats and used his home computer to threaten the police investigating the DA killing
In September of 1829 slavery was prohibited in Mexico. Because the politically connected Texans were outraged, one month later, the law was changed to allow slavery only in Texas. A few months later in early 1830, Mexico altered its policy under a new government that was less interested in catering to Texas. Mexico passed a law that prohibited further American settlement, and banned importation of additional slaves into Texas. The Mexican abolition movement, following the pattern seen around the world, had apparently pressured for more restrictions. This was a strict proviso, but for the Texans it was survivable, as they already had thousands of slaves within Mexico. The law must have created difficulties for the Texans and been a great source of irritation to them as they worked to develop their slave labour based agricultural economy. There were other grievances by this time, such as the amount of taxes the Texans were required to pay, but none struck home so much as the “bread and butter” issue of slavery. Without it, the Texans could not make a profit and ultimately would be out of business.
As the American population of Texas grew increasingly disgruntled with the various restrictions imposed by Mexico, an independence movement developed led by Stephen Austin. He presented a petition for independence to the Mexican government in 1833, and was then arrested and jailed until 1835. In 1835, there were about 20,000 Texans and 4000 slaves in Texas. In December of 1835 the newly crowned dictator General Antonio Santa Anna amended the slavery laws to ban slavery in Texas.
The settlers and their newly freed leader Austin quickly announced that they would secede from Mexico. To the great dismay of the Texans, however, in December of 1835 President Santa Ana extended the slavery ban to Texas to appease Mexican abolitionists. The Texans immediately rebelled and declared that they were seceded from Mexico, and declared the Republic of Texas. One of their first actions was to ban free blacks from the Republic. Not content with the possibility of withdrawing from Texas, the Texans enlisted the help of citizens of the United States in order to preserve slavery and the huge tracts of cotton growing land. This resulted in the famous siege and battle at the Alamo, a Catholic mission taken over by the Texans.
When the NAACP began challenging Jim Crow laws across the South, it knew that, in the battle for public opinion, the particular plaintiffs mattered as much as the facts of the case. The group meticulously selected the people who would elicit both sympathy and outrage, who were pristine in form and character. And they had to be ready to step forward at the exact moment when both public sentiment and the legal system might be swayed.
That’s how Oliver Brown, a hard-working welder and assistant pastor in Topeka, Kan., became the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit that would obliterate the separate but equal doctrine. His daughter, whose third-grade innocence posed a searing rebuff to legal segregation, became its face.
Nearly 60 years after that Supreme Court victory, which changed the nation, conservatives freely admit they have stolen that page from the NAACP’s legal playbook as they attempt to roll back many of the civil rights group’s landmark triumphs.
In 23-year-old Abigail Noel Fisher they’ve put forward their version of the perfect plaintiff to challenge the use of race in college admissions decisions.
Publicly, Fisher and her supporters, chief among them the conservative activist who conceived of the case, have worked to make Fisher the symbol of racial victimization in modern America. As their narratives goes, she did everything right. She worked hard, received good grades, and rounded out her high school years with an array of extracurricular activities. But she was cheated, they say, her dream snatched away by a university that closed its doors to her because she had been born the wrong color: White.
The daughter of suburban Sugar Land, Texas, played the cello. Since the second grade, she said, she dreamed of carrying on the family tradition by joining her sister and father among the ranks of University of Texas at Austin alumni.
And the moment for her to lend her name to the lawsuit might never be riper: The Supreme Court has seated its most conservative bench since the 1930s. The Court is expected to issue a decision any week now in what is considered one of the most important civil rights cases in years.
On a YouTube video posted by Edward Blum, a 1973 University of Texas graduate whose nonprofit organization is bankrolling the lawsuit, she is soft-spoken, her strawberry blond hair tucked behind one ear. Not even a swipe of lip gloss adorns her girlish face.
“There were people in my class with lower grades who weren’t in all the activities I was in, who were being accepted into UT, and the only other difference between us was the color of our skin,” she says. “I was taught from the time I was a little girl that any kind of discrimination was wrong. And for an institution of higher learning to act this way makes no sense to me. What kind of example does it set for others?”
It’s a deeply emotional argument delivered by an earnest young woman, one that’s been quoted over and over again.
Except there’s a problem. The claim that race cost Fisher her spot at the University of Texas isn’t really true.
In the hundreds of pages of legal filings, Fisher’s lawyers spend almost no time arguing that Fisher would have gotten into the university but for her race.
If you’re confused, it is no doubt in part because of how Blum, Fisher and others have shaped the dialogue as the case worked its way to the country’s top court.
Journalists and bloggers have written dozens of articles on the case, including profiles of Fisher and Blum. News networks have aired panel after panel about the future of affirmative action. Yet for all the front-page attention, angry debate and exchanges before the justices, some of the more fundamental elements of the case have been little reported.
Race probably had nothing to do with the University of Texas’s decision to deny admission to Abigail Fisher.
In 2008, the year Fisher sent in her application, competition to get into the crown jewel of the Texas university system was stiff. Students entering through the university’s Top 10 program — a mechanism that granted automatic admission to any teen who graduated in the upper 10 percent of his or her high school class — claimed 92 percent of the in-state spots.
Fisher said in news reports that she hoped for the day universities selected students “solely based on their merit and if they work hard for it.” But Fisher failed to graduate in the top 10 percent of her class, meaning she had to compete for the limited number of spaces up for grabs.
She and other applicants who did not make the cut were evaluated based on two scores. One allotted points for grades and test scores. The other, called a personal achievement index, awarded points for two required essays, leadership, activities, service and “special circumstances.” Those included socioeconomic status of the student or the student’s school, coming from a home with a single parent or one where English wasn’t spoken. And race.
Those two scores, combined, determine admission.
Even among those students, Fisher did not particularly stand out. Court records show her grade point average (3.59) and SAT scores (1180 out of 1600) were good but not great for the highly selective flagship university. The school’s rejection rate that year for the remaining 841 openings was higher than the turn-down rate for students trying to get into Harvard.
As a result, university officials claim in court filings that even if Fisher received points for her race and every other personal achievement factor, the letter she received in the mail still would have said no.
It’s true that the university, for whatever reason, offered provisional admission to some students with lower test scores and grades than Fisher. Five of those students were black or Latino. Forty-two were white.
Neither Fisher nor Blum mentioned those 42 applicants in interviews. Nor did they acknowledge the 168 black and Latino students with grades as good as or better than Fisher’s who were also denied entry into the university that year. Also left unsaid is the fact that Fisher turned down a standard UT offer under which she could have gone to the university her sophomore year if she earned a 3.2 GPA at another Texas university school in her freshman year.
The right’s war on sex education and women’s access to birth control continues at the Texas Legislature. Two key bills on those issues face important steps in the legislative process this week.
On Tuesday the Senate Education Committee is set to vote on Senate Bill 521, which would impose new state mandates on school districts that use outside entities to provide instruction on sex education. SB 521, by Sen. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, would bar anyone affiliated with an abortion provider from teaching sex education in public schools. Even more problematic is that the bill includes other bureaucratic requirements that would make it harder for school districts to offer sex education and for students to take such classes if they are offered. This is a reckless bill in any state, but especially in one with one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation. Click here for more about the SB 521 and its Senate committee hearing earlier this month.
On Wednesday the House State Affairs Committee is scheduled to consider House Bill 649, which would effectively encourage employers to deny coverage for birth control in health insurance for employees. HB 649, by state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, would give businesses a reimbursement for state taxes if they are fined for refusing to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act’s requirement for including coverage for emergency contraception in employee health care plans. Under the bill, any employer could refuse to include such coverage simply by citing a conflict with “religious convictions of the owners of the business.”
A February poll for the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund found that 56 percent of the state’s registered voters oppose allowing bosses to deny their employees health care coverage for birth control. Most Texas simply think employers shouldn’t be able to impose their religious beliefs on their employees’ health care decisions. Women should be able to make decisions about their own health care — and about when or if to have children — no matter where they work.
A look at participation in the Texas primary over 4 decades.
Okay so if the trans kid being in Texas thing didn’t immediately convince you to help me (didn’t think it would), here’s some information that might sway your sympathy in my direction. I’m desperate, ok?
My name is Liam. I’m seventeen years old and I’ve lived in Texas my entire life with my parents and sister. It sucks here. It’s hot and dumb and full of gun-wielding republicans who like to quote Bible verses.
I need to get at least $600 saved up before mid-August 2013, at which point I plan on coming out to my parents as transgender and hopping on a plane to Michigan to ~start anew~ and all that dumb cliche bullshit I didn’t think I’d ever need.
I have seen the power of tumblr help people get fluffy chickens and shit. I have seen kind tumblr users give away pizza hut meals to their beautiful followers. So I know that the people of tumblr are capable of getting me, a pre-everything transboy from Texas, the fuck out of my house.
My parents are slightly shitty. They’re pretty homophobic, so if they find out I trans-identify, I’m fucked. Last year I told my mother I was unsure of my views on religion, and she wouldn’t talk to me civilly for two months, on top of ranting to the fucking DOG about how terrible of a child I was when she knew I could hear.
I was sexually abused by a Mormon Sunday School teacher at age ten and I’ve lived in the same dumb suburban area in south/central Texas since 1999. I’ve also had a stalker and an ex-partner who isn’t too unlikely to stalk me in the future, if they aren’t currently. And all of my abusers live within ten minutes of me, so yeah, shopping or even just leaving my house is fucking terrifying for me.
I have PTSD on top of general anxiety shit and depression. My parents won’t allow me to go to therapy more than twice a month and my mother refuses to allow my dosage of antidepressant to be upped, much less have sleep and anxiety medications added onto my regimen, regardless of how they may help me.
The logical solution is to get the fuck out of here, away from people who can hurt me, and start over. Too many people here know about the dumb shit that’s happened to me in the past for me to be comfortable here. Plus I’m currently forced to present as female and my chances of being supported if I transition here are slim. I’m pretty sure I could actually be denied housing or a job because of my status as trans.
I didn’t ever think I’d be begging strangers on the internet for money, but here I am. I have five months left til I’m eighteen, and I don’t plan on staying here longer than necessary.
Here is the link to my donations button (I’m dumb so it’s just the button on a blank page. But it works, so fuck it).
I wish I could pay you guys back, but I really can’t as of now besides promising that I’ll give you an honorable mention in the vlog I make the day I leave, and you’ll have that nice fuzzy feeling in your heart or whatever because you helped a kid in a shitty situation.
If all you can do is reblog this, please do it.
so either way we’re screwed, right?
everyone who speculated that running for president would hurt Rick Perry’s reelection chances is looking like a damn fool
Austin’s geographic divide has a specific legal past. As I came to learn, African Americans had been living throughout the city in the early 1900’s, until a 1928 city plan proposed concentrating all services for black residents—parks, libraries, schools—on the East Side to avoid duplicating them elsewhere (this was in the time of “separate but equal”). Racial zoning was unconstitutional, but this policy accomplished the same thing. By 1940, most black Austinites were living between Seventh and Twelfth streets, while the growing Mexican American population was consolidating just south of that.
For years Austin has held the dubious distinction of being the only major city in the country clinging to an outmoded model of elective representation that all but ensured its racial exclusivity would persist. Since 1953, members of the city council have been elected on an at-large basis, which means that residents vote for individuals to represent the city as a whole, not their own neighborhoods. Because levels of voter participation, not to mention money, are unequal from neighborhood to neighborhood, this has perpetuated a serious imbalance in who holds and influences power. In the past forty years, half the city council members and fifteen of seventeen mayors have been from four zip codes west of I-35, an area that is home to just a tenth of the city’s population. The few have been governing the many.
The roots of this system are shameful. Until 1950, the system was straightforward: the top five vote-getters on a single ballot would become council members and select the mayor themselves. In 1951, a black candidate, Arthur DeWitty, then president of Austin’s NAACP chapter, came in sixth, which alarmed the city’s white business establishment. The system was rejiggered to create designated seats, or “places,” requiring more than 50 percent of the vote to win, a majority no ethnic candidate could achieve at the time. Not until twenty years later, in 1971, was an African American elected to the council, followed by the first Latino in 1975.