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TAKING BACK TEXAS To this day, Morales explains the purge during his third year in office as the natural consequence of a shift in administrations. “When a new officeholder comes in, I think the appropriate thing to do is to allow that officeholder’s philosophy and ideology to be reflected in the people that run the agencythat’s expected,” Morales says. “Admittedly, Jim [Mattox] and I have different philosophies; we have different styles. And I think it is illogical to expect that Jim Mattox’s division chiefs would be the best people to carry out the ideology or the philosophy that I would like to see in my office. I think that the officeholder has not only the right, but I believe the obligation, to make sure that he has people in place with whom ssenger. ales’ office was only nominally in-iied in the initial pliases of the lawsuit. In September of 1992 lawyer Steve Smith filed suit in U.S. district court in Austin, charging that the UMversity of Texas Law School, in denying admission to his white plaintiffs, had discriminated on the basis of race. Vinson & Elkins lawyer Harry Reasoner, aided by U.T. Law Professor Samuel Issacharoff, defended the law school in district court, where according to Issacharoff, “the common understanding is that we prevailed in 95 percent of that. [Judge Sam Sparks] found one defect in one aspect” of the 1992 law school admissions procedure, and ruled that the school had to stop using a special subcommitee that looked only at minority applications. The attorney general’s Special Assistant Jay Aguilar “put on maybe one witness” at the district court trial, says Issacharoff. “They [the AG’s office] were technically involved from the beginning…but they were not the lead lawyers.” The plaintiffs appealed Sparks’ deci e. tams that his of 5th Circuit an while Aguilar says throughout,” The case, he says, was cut up fairly evenly” among “four or five attorneys” in district court and lecl by Reasoner on appeal. while the petition was handled cooperatively by Tribe, the AG’s Some outside observers criticized the petition submitted to the Supreme Court because it made a states’ rights argument which, they felt, would set a bad precedent. And in listing six different reasons why the high court should hear the case, the petition may have appeared too diffuse, says U.T. Constitutional Law Professor Lucas Scot Powe, a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice William 0. Douglas. “When you’ve got five different issues,” Powe says, “that’s the sign of lawyers not knowing what they’re doing. At the Supreme Court, you’ve really got to narrow it down and explain why it’s important for them to hear the case.” Then there was the problem presented by the freewheeling nature of the 5th Circuit irrni importance of basing a 1111S sions decisions on “individual merit’ rather than race. “Here you’ve got Morales saying on one hand, ‘Review the case,’ on the other hand, he agrees with the outcome of the case. What’s the court to believe?” says Powe. “The state of Texas doesn’t believe what it’s saying. Under the circumstance, do you really think they’re going to be well represented? It’s not clear what they’re doing or what their position is. Morales simply cut the legs out from under the case.” Morales defends his press statement as consistent with the argument made in the petition: that race should be one factor, but not the determining factor, in admissions decisions. “It is better to allow for an admissions committee to consider everything about a person… so long as it is not based on race,” he says. Following the Supreme Court’s refusal, 10 THE TEXAS OBSERVER MAY 23, 1997