Houston Informer, December 14, 1946.  Used with permission of the Houston Informer

JUDGE DODGES OWN ORDER IN SWEATT CASE

Extends Period For Establishment of Law School for Negroes

AUSTIN—The fight of Heman Sweatt to enter the University of Texas law school entered another phase Tuesday after Judge Roy C. Archer of 126th District Court welshed on his writ of mandamus issued on June 26, which declared that law training should be provided for Sweatt within six months or a writ would be signed ordering the University of Texas to admit Sweatt. The six months were up Tuesday and Judge Archer issued another opinion refusing to issue a writ of mandamus and failing to carry out his previous decision. Sweatt’s lawyers immediately filed notice of appeal to the higher courts.

Judge Archer extended until February the period for the state to establish a "first class" law school for Negroes. If the school is not established the matter is then squarely open for Mr. Sweatt to renew his application to enter the University of Texas.

Principal evidence that the State intends to fulfill its obligation to Negro students is a resolution adopted by the A. and M. Board of Directors on November 27, saying that a law course for Negroes will be set up as a adjunct to Prairie View university for Negroes. The resolution also says a deficiency appropriation will be asked to finance the course, which Negro attorneys will teach. The application for the money has not yet been made.

Sweatt’s attorneys, Thurgood Marshall and W.J. Durham, said the resolution is "only a piece of paper" and not the law school Judge Archer last June said must be established.

"Your order, sir, was given six months ago," Marshall noted. "Five months later, the A. and M. directors got around to passing a resolution. It took them five months to pass a resolution to get started. I don’t see how at that rate they expect to have the school in operation in February."

Archer found that efforts toward that goal have been initiated.

"I am compelled to assume, and I do assume," the judge stated, "that the regents (directors of Texas A. and M., governing Prairie View university) will put into operation a first class university teaching a first class law school in February. Feeling that they will, I am going to hold that this will comply with his (Sweatt’s) constitutional privileges.

"All we’re asking for," Marshall declared, "is equality under the 14th Amendment. We think there is an inequality right there in requiring the Negro student to follow such a procedure."

Marshall was joined in the argument by W.J. Durham of Dallas, the attorney who handled Sweatt’s trial before Judge Archer in June. Also at the counsel table was James Nabrit, formerly of Houston, now an executive of Howard university for Negroes in Washington, D.C.

All seats at the table were taken, and Sweatt sat on the floor just inside the bar. The slightly built, bespectacled Negro who attended Wiley college and the University of Michigan, followed the proceedings closely.

The attorney general endorsed the right of Negroes to an educational system equivalent to the whites. "I want to see them have it," he said, "but in the constitutional way."

Attorney Gen. Sellers contended that the State is not obliged to maintain an educational facility in idleness, waiting for a student to appear. He argued also that he State is entitled to a "reasonable time" to get such a school into operation.

Judgment of the Court

On this the 17 day of December, 1946, came on for hearing the motion of respondents in the above entitled and numbered cause pursuant to an order of this court made and entered of record herein on the 26 day of June, 1946. All parties appeared in person or by their attorneys of record and announced ready for said hearing, and all matters of fact and law were submitted to the court sitting without a jury, and the court having heard the pleadings, evidence, and argument of counsel is of the opinion that the said order of June 26, 1946, has been complied with in that a law school or legal training substantially equivalent to that offered at the University of Texas has now been made available to the Relator and that the Relator may now obtain legal training within the State of Texas at the Prairie View university, an institution supported by said State, by presenting to the proper authorities a suitable transcript and a certificate from the Dean of the Law school of the University of Texas that he is scholastically prepared for legal training equivalent to that given at the University of Texas. And, further, the court is of the opinion that provision for legal training for the Relator at said Prairie View university does not constitute any abridgement or denial of his constitutional rights.

And to the action of the Court in overruling the exceptions of the respondents, the respondent excepts and in open Court give notice of appeal to the Court of Civil Appeals for the Third Supreme Judicial District of Texas, sitting at Austin, Texas. This order made and entered on this the 17 day of December, A.D. 1946.

It is therefore Ordered, Adjudged, and Decreed that he writ of mandamus sought herein be in all things denied and that he costs hereof be assessed against the Relator.

To which action of the court the Relator in open Court excepted and gave notice of appeal to the Court of Civil Appeals for the Third Supreme Judicial District of the State of Texas, sitting at Austin, Texas.