Justice Jeffrey S. Boyd (’83) is officially the only Wildcat on the court, but the other eight justices showed their support as they for the first time sat in session at ACU in the Hunter Welcome Center. They also gamely displayed the Wildcat hand symbol during a break and a later photo session to the delight of attendees, who ranged from area legal professionals to grade-school students. Many in the ACU and Abilene communities also joined the justices at a reception Thursday night and a luncheon Friday.
“The justices were quite taken with the importance of their visiting a university – this university – among their two trips away from Austin each year,” said Dr. Neal Coates (’87), professor and chair of the university’s political science department. “They usually hold hearings at a law school in Texas, but they quickly concluded during their visit that ACU is a special place. As Texas Supreme Court justice Jeffrey Brown said, ‘ACU rolled out the purple carpet for the Texas Supreme Court.’ ”
The honor of hosting allowed the university to tout its alumni ties, notably former Chief Justice Jack Pope (’34), the longest-serving Texas Supreme Court justice (38 years) in history and for whom the Jack Pope Fellows Program at ACU is named. Ties to the current court include Melanie (Booker ’06) Fry, who clerked for Texas Supreme Court justice Don R. Willett, and Connor Best (’12), who is currently clerking for Boyd.
The court heard oral arguments in two cases and afterward took questions from attendees, most of which related to how the court chooses cases to hear and how justices work separately and together to arrive at and deliver opinions on such cases. ACU students in select classes as well as Jack Pope Fellows were able to meet with the justices for smaller question and answer sessions. Display cases featuring memorabilia from Pope’s life and career were put on display for the occasion on the first floor of the Hunter Welcome Center and are now in the Brown Library.
For those who weren’t able to attend the session, video and audio of the oral arguments are available on the court’s website. (See cases 14-0362 and 14-0456.)