The Supreme Court of Texas will be on campus for the first time on Friday, Nov. 13, to hear two oral arguments, and the nine justices will meet with select classes and student groups on campus during their visit.
Justice Jeff Boyd, a member of the court for nearly three years and an ACU alumnus (’83), said he requested the court visit Abilene as soon as he learned the court visited universities each semester.
“I am particularly excited for the court to be coming to Abilene,” Boyd said. “It was a dream I had since I got on the court and learned about the opportunity. I immediately asked how to get on the list because we needed to go to ACU. “
During the session, the court will hear arguments for two different cases – a defamation case, KBMT Operating Co., et al. v. Minda Lao Toledo, and a healthcare liability case, Christus Health Gulf Coast v. Linda Carswell.
“We like to give a little bit of variety for the people to see a couple different kinds of cases,” Boyd said.
After the arguments for the cases are heard, the court will come back out for a question-and-answer session.
“It’s an excellent opportunity to see firsthand how the court works, what it’s like to be on the court or be a lawyer arguing in the court,” Boyd said. “We are able to take the court to where people otherwise wouldn’t get to see firsthand what the court does and how it does it.”
Later in the afternoon, the justices will split up for small group times with students from LYNAY, the Pope Fellows program, a communication law and a business law class.
The oral arguments will be open to the public and will begin at 9 a.m. next Friday. Those interested in attending should arrive at the Hunter Welcome Center 30 minutes early for security screening.
Boyd said the Court gladly supported coming to ACU because of the university’s significant connection to the Supreme Court, with ACU alumnus Jack Pope serving as a Justice on the court for 38 years.
“We thought it would be a great way to pay tribute to him and his leadership and service on the court for so many years,” Boyd said.
Pope graduated from ACU in 1934 and went on to attend law school at the University of Texas. He has worked in public service all of his life. In 1989, ACU created the Pope Fellows program to encourage students to go into public service.
Pope, now 102, is unable to return to campus for the court’s visit due to health concerns.
In addition to the university’s connection with Pope, ACU’s noteworthy pre-law program will be highlighted during the visit. Dr. Mel Hailey was named best pre-law advisor in the U.S. for 2015.
Neal Coates, chair of the Department of Political Science, said he wants the visit to remind people of how good these programs, like Pope Fellows and pre-law, are to have on campus.
“It’s a great honor to have the court on campus,” Coates said. “We want people to be aware of that because it is a great spotlight on ACU.”