Seeing the State’s Highest Court in action usually requires a trip to Austin, but on Friday, the Justices will descend upon mid-sized Abilene, Texas. Many people, like myself, may have not been aware that the Supreme Court ever left Austin to hear cases.
“The Texas Supreme Court travels in Texas twice a year – usually in the fall and the spring, and they visit law schools, universities and a few other places,” said Neal Coates, ACU’s Chair of the political science department.
ACU played no small role in getting the Court to travel to Abilene. One of the current justice’, Jeffrey Boyd, is an ACU alum.
Justice Boyd is not the only connection that ACU has with the Texas Supreme Court. Former Chief Justice Jack Pope also graduated from the University.
“Justice Jack Pope was one of the more unique individuals in Texas legal history,” Coates said. “Jack Pope was known for the highest of ethics, for supporting programs to help those who are poor and for the reform of the judicial system. He’s been honored by the legislature several times.”
Justice Pope’s archives are held at ACU’s Brown Library, he’s 102 years old and still lives in Austin. He will not be able to make the trip to Abilene. However, the full bench of Texas Supreme Court Justices will be here.
“We’re very pleased that all nine will be hear and they will hear two cases,” Coates said. “We have recreated a courtroom, if you will – In the Hunter Welcome Center.”
The two cases being heard are real, and the Court’s overall purposes for their campus visits are education and awareness.
“We don’t have to go to Austin to see our state’s highest court for civil issues in action,” Coates said. Anyone can go and listen and can go and watch. One of the hallmarks of the American judicial system and American politics in general is the openness - our ability to watch, to listen, to get records, to ask questions – these persons are accountable to us.”
Abilene area residents will have the opportunity to watch and listen to the state’s highest court on Friday morning in ACU’s Hunter Welcome Center.