With today’s orders list, the Texas Supreme Court issued its final Friday orders for the term. The list included one per curiam about a workers comp issue, and no grants.
As the Term comes to a close, the usual drama is missing. The Court cleaned out its docket of argued cases at the end of June. (You might have missed it because a different “SC” issued a different opinion that same day.) Total cases remaining on July 1: 0.
I thought we’d all have a relaxed summer, but the Court has subsequently issued a few more opinions, bringing the total number of cases pending at the end of the term to -5.1
Two of those opinions involved a challenge to the City of Houston’s ordinance about equal rights for sexual orientation (HERO). In the first decision, issued in July, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the city council had improperly rejected a local petition of voters demanding that the question be put on the ballot for voter approval. , No. 14-0667
The city council responded by keeping the ordinance in place while scheduling a ballot measure asking voters if they wanted to repeal the ordinance . The challengers thought this framing was backwards, and filed another mandamus petition asking the Supreme Court to intervene, again. On August 19, the Court issued an opinion ruling that the ballot measure must ask voters to approve the ordinance; that it was not enough to presume the law exists and ask voters whether they would like to repeal it. , No. 15-0581
That’s two of the five opinions. The others, in brief:
- , No. 14-0548 :: This was a lawsuit between two cities over their common boundary, which was defined in the operative document as being a “shoreline.” One of the cities filed a plea to the jurisdiction, arguing that the boundary line was a nonjusticiable political question. The Supreme Court disagreed, concluding that the courts can properly clarify a term like “shoreline”, and thus tell the parties where the boundary defined by the controlling law actually falls in fact, without offending the separation of powers.
- , No. 14-0629 :: A default judgment is subject to later attack when the plaintiff has it served on an out-of-date “registered” address rather than the defedant’s true “last known mailing address,” when there is evidence that the plaintiff had actual knowledge of that new address.
, No. 13-0814 :: The Court reversed a workers comp award to someone who claimed to have lost the use of her feet due to an injury suffered elsewhere on her body (her back). The pivotal step in the analysis is the sentence: “For total loss of use of a [body part] to be compensable, the loss of use must have resulted from injury to the [part] itself, as opposed to the loss of use resulting from injury to another part of the body.”
The week ahead
Next week brings the first week of oral arguments in the new term. On Tuesday, the Court will hear arguments in the school-finance litigation. That is followed on the calendar by normal argument slates on Wednesday and Thursday.
- Well, the true count is still at zero. These were per curiams that were never argued. I’ve been asked if the timing of these opinions reflects some resurgence in the old shadow/submarine docket of per curiam cases. My first reaction is no, that this is just a normal trickle of cases. ↩