SLIBSCF/IPTION .q. take your pick of fat targets. Several Texas ACLU cases ended up in the Supreme Court during the early 1970s. Brent Stein, aka Stoney Burns, published the Dallas underground newspaper Dallas Notes. He was targeted by the Dallas police in the late 1960s with two raids on his house and the seizure of all his equipment and papers. He was charged with violating the state’s obscenity statute. His suit against the Dallas police was twice argued at the Supreme Court, and resulted in the voiding of the state’s obscenity law. At one point in 1971, Sam Clinton and I had back-to-back arguments before the court. I was arguing Stoney’s case, and Sam was representing antiwar activists who had been busted in Killeen for demonstrating against the Vietnam War. ACLU cooperating attorneys, as they were called, were in private practice and volunteered their services to these unpopular causes. In Austin it made you something of a heronot so out in the boonies. Those lawyers were a special breed of malcontent. A number of them come to mind, though I fear I may not remember all who deserve recognition. Warren Burnett in Odessa was the state’s premier trial lawyer. The rise of Hispanic activism produced constant conflicts with entrenched authority, and Warren volunteered his services all over South Texas in those disputes, as did Jim Harrington in the Rio Grande Valley. Gerry Goldstein from San Antonio is today one of the country’s leading criminal defense law -yers. Gerry was inveigled by Maury into performing innumerable ACLU services. Don Gladden was once a member of the Legislature from Fort Worth. His ACLU lawsuits against Tarrant County and other local governments drove officialdom crazy for years on end. Initially, David Berg and Stuart Nelkin were most active as ACLU attorneys. Later, Patrick Wiseman, with his sidekick Larry Sauer, became Mr. ACLU in Houston for a decade with a multitude of lawsuits. Finally, two others who functioned in truly hostile territory were Selden Hale in Amarillo and Larry Daves in deep East Texas. No one treated them as heroes for their ACLU efforts. The Texas attorney general’s office began to view the old Seventh Street operation as a left-wing cabal, a place where litigation was cooked up just for the hell of it. One day in 1975, John Duncan and I were sitting around the ACLU office grousing about a new Texas voter registration statute. It had been pushed through the Legislature by then-Secretary of State Mark White, and mandated purging the entire voter registration rollssome 5 million votersand requiring everyone to reregister. The Voting Rights Act had just been extended to include Texas, and we concluded that the purge was assuredly a violation of the act. In that era, it was important to file your lawsuit, if possible, before Judge William Wayne Justice. John said he would look around for a plaintiff and located an ACLU member who lived in Sherman. Her black maid, Ruby Flowers, became the plaintiff who derailed the voter purge, leaving the state holding 5 million letters that could not be sent. Those were heady times. There was a fine camaraderie among all of those who took up the cudgels for the ACLU. By the end of the 1980s, the Reagan and Bush judicial appointments had taken their toll. The federal judiciary was no longer a receptive audience for social change lawsuits, and ACLU litigation in Texas began to wane. Looking back, it’s not clear what our efforts accomplished, but we certainly did enjoy the most signal of pleasures: visiting consternation upon our enemies. David Richards is an attorney and author. TheTexasObserver would like to remind you that: DISSENT IS EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT PUBLIC LIBRARIES and the Observer by donating a tax-deductable Observer subscription to the Texas public library of your choice. Visit our website www. texasobservenorg, or call us at list of Texas public libraries to order a subscription. Vee Sawyer Photography www.veesawyer.com ADVERTISEMENT HACKED! High Tech Election Theft in America Learn why YOU will NOT be selecting the next US President. This fascinating book exposes the truths about taxpayer swindling, election stealing, electronic voting machines, and offers solutions to save elections. HTTP://HACKEDELECTIONS.COM MARCH 7, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31
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