Is Texas Really 41st in This Ranking? Seriously?

Fifty-state rankings are a creative way to lobby for change. Nobody wants to be last in any list, no matter how calculated.

The “Institute for Legal Reform” at the United States Chamber of Commerce has published its 2008 list, complete with state-by-state press releases, detailed voting information, and video clips about their policy proposals.

It’s a little hard to believe Texas ranks only 41st in this list about best legal environment for business, or that it ranked 44th last year. Oh, well. I’m sure there is an equal-but-opposite list compiled somewhere about the fairness of the legal system in which Texas has just fallen from 6th to 9th.

The Texas-specific press release suggests there are a few “crackpot jurisdictions” within the state and then says:

“The best thing a state can do to attract business is to have a fair legal system,” said Donohue. “Attitudes about Texas’ legal climate will only improve once the courts in these individual jurisdictions begin complying with the spirit and letter of the law.”

Does the real-world data confirm this is “the best thing a state can do to attract business”?

Texas recently moved into the top spot in number of Fortune 500 corporate headquarters, above New York and California.

That’s Texas (ranked 41st today), ahead of New York (ranked 25th — albeit in the top half of the class) and California (ranked 44th). I recognize that locating a corporate headquarters is different than locating a facility the company expects to be a lawsuit magnet. But if I’m choosing which facilities I want my state to attract, that’s a pretty easy call.

First local reports: San Antonio Business Journal :: Southeast Texas Record

Creation-Science Science-Education Education

Without the hyphens, that headline would be mush.

And, in some sense, that’s the problem. The Institute for Creation Research wants Texas to recognize the online masters degrees that it offers to teachers as giving those teachers a special qualification in “science education.” The dispute is over whether their degree program fits within the state’s requirements. (( I presume this would get the teachers a higher salary. ))

ICR says the dispute is about religious beliefs. The state will likely say that its designations are about preparing public-school teachers to teach the curriculum, not about their personal beliefs.

An appeal is already being discussed. From the Texas Observer:

Morris said if the Board votes to uphold the Commissioner’s recommendation, the Institute will appeal the decision in the next 45 days. If the appeal is denied, Morris said, the Institute may take its case to the Texas Supreme Court. “We were denied the right to operate in California and we went through a lengthy and onerous court case before we won,” he said. “It’s an option that we will consider in Texas if we are denied.”

If you’re curious, here is what ICR’s website has to say about its lawsuit against California.

Coverage: Houston Chronicle :: Texas Observer :: Dallas Morning News

Another Election Case Perhaps Headed Up

On March 4th, State Rep. Nathan Macias lost his reelection bid in the primary. Shortly thereafter, he filed suit charging that more than 200 votes cast ballots in both the Republican and Democratic primaries and that approximately 1000 voted twice in the Republican primary.

A visiting judge (James Clawson) was assigned for the trial, set to begin May 19th.

From “Trial Date Set for Election Challenge” in the Herald-Zeitung:

Last week, Macias’ attorney Rene Diaz filed an objection to having Clawson hear the case, seeking to have a new judge take over the proceedings. But Clawson, who has ruled on numerous election contests in the past, disregarded the objection.

“I frankly kind of enjoy (election contests),” Clawson told the court. “They’re America at work.”

Diaz gave no reasoning as to why he wanted a different judge, other than that it is a “right that every civil litigant has in the State of Texas.” He presented Clawson with a handful of other cases from around the state to try and sway him to step down, ultimately to no avail.

It sounds like Macias is considering challenging that decision “in a higher court, possibly the Texas Supreme Court” (but see the word of warning in this earlier post):

Macias and his legal team still can challenge the ruling in a higher court, possibly the Texas Supreme Court, to seek a different judge. Diaz said any decision to do so would likely be made in the next few days.

“We’re considering our options,” Diaz said.

Clear Channel Merger Mandamus — Just Misses Becoming Moot

Apparently the buyout firms have rejected the banks’ offer of binding arbitration. The article says, quoting the banks, that they “remain willing to fund the Clear Channel acquisition.”

The banks’ mandamus petition and request for emergency stay also remain pending as In re Citigroup Global Markets, Inc., No. 08-0289 in the Texas Supreme Court.

The papers opposing that mandamus were due to be filed today, so there may be some action in the case on tomorrow’s order list.