|©1950, Austin American, Tuesday, June 6, 1950. Reprinted with
permission of the Austin American Statesman
Sweatt UT Plea Upheld; States Lose on Tidelands
Court Holds Houston Negro Law School Not Equal Unit
From Wire Services
Texas was rapped with sharp blows on two fronts Monday as the United States Supreme Court ruled adversely on the questions of racial segregation and ownership of the state's tidelands.
The Supreme Court struck down segregation of Negro students at the University of Oklahoma and ordered Texas to admit a Negro student to its all-white law school.
Chief Justice Vinson delivered both unanimous decisions.
They followed an 8-0 ruling which outlawed separation of Negroes in railroad dining cars.
In all three cases, the court expressly refrained from ruling on broad constitutional questions.
It did not grant a government request that it reverse a 54-year-old decision that segregation is constitutional as long as "separate but equal" facilities are provided for Negroes.
The combined effect of the three decisions, however, was to make it plain that such separate facilities must truly be equal. The Justice Department had argued that they never can bethat separation in itself is a form of inequality.
In the Texas case, Heman Marion Sweatt, of Houston, demanded admission to the white law School in Austin. He has refused to attend a new law school for Negroes set up by the state in Houston.
The high court based its decision in the Texas case on a finding that the Negro school at Houston would not be equivalent to the school provided for whites.
The Supreme Court upheld the federal government's claim to "paramount rights" to oil-rich submerged lands off the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana.
The long-awaited decisions backed up its famous 1947 California ruling that national interests dominate in coastal areas.
The decrees are certain to spur new moves in Congress to turn the so-called "tidelands" over to the states. Advance notice of this came from Representative Ed Gossett (D-Texas). who called the edicts "another long shove down the road to national socialism."
"The property rights of states are about to be destroyed . . ." he said. "Only Congress can now save this nation from the disgraceful spectacle of confiscation without compensation."
But Chairman Joseph C. O'Mahoney (D-Wyo.) of the Senate interior committee said the rulings "remove all obstacles" to consideration of legislation for federal administration and development of the tidelands. He indicated an enabling bill will soon be taken up by his committee.