St. Mary’s law students had a rare opportunity to experience the Supreme Court of Texas firsthand when the nine member court spent the day on the campus on March 25.

The Supreme Court of Texas has final jurisdiction over civil matters in Texas. The Court, seated in Austin, periodically hears arguments outside of Austin. Justice Paul W. Green (J. D. ’77) is a St. Mary’s School of Law graduate.

The St. Mary’s Courtroom was packed with law students, faculty and interested parties who intently followed along while the court heard oral arguments on three cases. Students from the University of Texas and Texas State University also traveled to San Antonio to see the court in action.

The Justices’ visit to St. Mary’s made headlines across the country – running everywhere from The Dallas Morning News to the Los Angeles Times and The Boston Globe to The Huffington Post – thanks to one case in particular, Susan Combs and Greg Abbott v. Texas Entertainment Association Inc. Debated in the case was issue of whether the $5 tax on patrons at clubs serving alcohol with nude entertainment violates the First Amendment’s free-speech clause.

In the afternoon, the Justices participated in a question and answer session with law students. They fielded questions and talked candidly on topics such as pet peeves during oral arguments, elected and appointed judgeships and judicial activities outside the courtroom. The Justices impressed upon the students the importance of well-written briefs.

Since 2006, St. Mary’s School of Law and the Supreme Court of Texas have partnered to provide the Court’s oral arguments to the public through access to live and archived webcasts.

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