Landmark Cases

These are a few of the many cases in which TJF has represented Texans at no charge to advance the fundamental principles of ordered liberty since its founding in 1993.

I. LIMITED GOVERNMENT

  • U.S. v. Lopez (LIMITED GOVERNMENT) In its first Amicus (Friend of the Court) Brief before the U.S. Supreme Court, TJF successfully argued that Congress cannot control education, a state and local function, under its Commerce Clause power.
  • Shields  v. Sierra Club (LIMITED GOVERNMENT)  Representing State Rep. John Shields, TJF has sued the Sierra Club and the U.S. Department of Interior for a declaratory judgment to return local control over species by rendering the Endangered Species Act unconstitutional as applied to solely intrastate species with no substantial impact on interstate commerce, based on the Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Lopez and the Tenth Amendment.
  • O’Brien v. Lavaca Navidad River Authority (LIMITED GOVERNMENT)  After the voters rejected a sales tax increase, TJF sued to enforce a city charter provision requiring an election by the people before a city may contract for a utility purchase over five years in length.
  • Dallas Services For Visually Impaired Children v. Commissioner (LIMITED  GOVERNMENT; FREE MARKETS)  TJF sued Commissioner of Education for referring state business to governmental Education Service Centers rather than non-profit private provider of similar services at comparable quality and lower cost in violation of Appropriations Bill.
  • Teen Challenge v. TCADA (LIMITED GOVERNMENT; RELIGIOUS LIBERTY)  TJF represented Teen Challenge as local counsel with the Institute for Justice when a state agency tried to shut down this highly successful faith-based drug abuse program for failure to meet state requirements. A compromise was reached which allowed Teen Challenge to continue to serve its clients with much greater success than state licensed programs. After 2 years, TJF finally obtained complete exemption for Teen Challenge.

II. PROPERTY RIGHTS

  • Bragg v. Edwards Aquifer (PROPERTY RIGHTS)  TJF brought suit against the Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA) claiming that EAA’s denial of the Bragg’s pumping rights was unconstitutional and would put the clients out of business.  In a victory, the trial Judge found the EAA’s well permitting rules void because the EAA failed to prepare a Taking Impact Analysis as required by the Texas Real Property Rights Preservation Act.
  • Davidson v. Babbitt (PROPERTY RIGHTS)  TJF represented a couple denied the right to build a home on their land because of golden cheeked warbler.  Couple finally is allowed to build a home for them and their children rather than maintain their own land as a park for birds.
  • Medearis v. Brazoria County Drainage District (PROPERTY RIGHTS)  In the first cases under the Texas Real Property Rights Preservation Act of 1995, TJF has successfully helped landowners who were told they must donate land to the government and pay more than 25% of the value of the land to build detention ponds, without any compensation.  The Court agreed with TJF by holding that the drainage district had exceeded their authority and acted unconstitutionally by committing a taking under the Texas Constitution.

III. FREE MARKETS

  • SBC v. Federal Communications Commission (FREE MARKETS)  TJF filed Amicus (friend of the court) briefs at the trial, Fifth Circuit, and Supreme Court in support of Southwestern Bell and other local telephone companies which were unconstitutionally excluded from long distance markets.  Congress passed an unconstitutional bill of attainder by naming individual companies to exclusion form long distance, to the detriment of consumes.  Fifth Circuit reversed trial court and Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

IV. PARENTAL RIGHTS AND CHOICE IN EDUCATION

  • Saucedo v. SAISD (PARENTAL RIGHTS IN EDUCATION)  TJF successfully represented a PTA parent who was arrested while taking his children to school.  The man was arrested at the request of San Antonio Independent School District in retaliation for his voiced concerns as a parent and for criticizing school administrators for their failure to protect the safety of the children.  With the help of TJF, the charges against the father were dropped.
  • Hunnicutt v. LaGloria ISD (PARENTAL CHOICE IN EDUCATION) After an administrative appeal to the Texas Commissioner of Education, the Commissioner ruled that the school district discriminated against a child seeking a Public Education Grant (PEG) transfer, and ordered the district to accept the child as a PEG student. This was the first time the Commissioner of Education has ordered a school district accept a PEG Transfer.
  • Rowden v. Tyler ISD (Federal Court)  (PARENTAL CHOICE IN EDUCATION)  TJF filed a lawsuit on behalf of a single mother and her seventh grade daughter requesting a transfer under the PEG Program after the child was assaulted five times in two years. The lawsuit sought to modify the state Desegregation Order based on changed law and circumstances since 1973.  The Federal Court denied our clients’ request to intervene, and the case was appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Rowden v. Tyler ISD (State Court)  (PARENTAL CHOICE IN EDUCATION)  TJF filed suit requesting that the district to comply with “zero tolerance” state law requiring removal of assaulters to alternative education programs thereby protecting all students in the district.  After a year of litigation, the school district finally agreed to transfer the child and made radical changes in its discipline policies.
  • Gutierrez v. Meno (PARENTAL CHOICE IN EDUCATION)  Representing low income Hispanic families from San Antonio, Laredo, and El Paso, TJF successfully obtained a Texas Supreme Court ruling opening the door for child-centered funding or educational vouchers to maximize parental and teacher freedom and improve public education.
  • Abuzeid v. Commissioner (PARENTAL RIGHTS IN EDUCATION)  TJF successfully obtained a waiver from the Commissioner of Education for a student to substitute Anatomy & Physiology for a required Health course which contained material that was morally and religiously objectionable to the child and her parents.
  • Marv H. v. Eagle Mountain ISD (PARENTAL CHOICE IN EDUCATION)  Representing the parent of a student assigned to an officially listed Low-Performing public school, TJF sued for a transfer to another public school under the Public Education Grant (PEG) statute.  Because of TJF litigation and publicity, the Legislature expanded and amended the PEG statute in 1997 to increase parental choice.  TJF also authored a parental rights handbook on the statute.
  • Edgewood ISD v. Belmares (PARENTAL RIGHTS IN EDUCATION)  This school district failed to educate its students, then prosecuted a mom who homeschooled her child rather than send her to an unsafe school where the mother witnessed a murder outside the school her child was required to attend.  TJF successfully defended the mother.
  • Encino Save Our Schools v. Brooks County ISD (PARENTAL CHOICE IN EDUCATION) TJF successfully negotiated a settlement with Brooks County ISD, which had closed down the predominately Hispanic elementary school in the small, rural town of Encino, Texas, to re-open the school for Pre-K through 8th grade and agree to either grant a campus charter or not oppose an open-enrollment charter should the community have a majority vote requesting same. For the first time in Texas history, local parents and teachers decided whether their school would be a traditional public school, a campus charter or an open-enrollment charter school.  The community voted for and obtained an open-enrollment charter, which is successfully operating today.
  • Gonzalez v. San Antonio ISD (PARENTAL CHOICE IN EDUCATION)  TJF successfully assisted a mother in obtaining an intra-district transfer for her two sons to the school of her choice and into the particular class of her choice, after her children began declining rapidly in school.
  • James D. v. Northside ISD (PARENTAL RIGHTS IN EDUCATION)  TJF represented the parents of a 10th grader who had been given an intrusive survey during his geography class regarding his beliefs about homosexuality and the death penalty, without prior parental notification or consent allowing the survey. TJF received written assurances  that this would not happen again, that all NISD staff would be instructed in Texas and federal law that governs intrusive surveys, and that parents would be informed of their rights in the Parent-Student Handbook.
  • Lisa T. v. SAISD (PARENTAL RIGHTS IN EDUCATION)  TJF filed a lawsuit against San Antonio Independent School District to protect parents and students from psychologically intrusive surveys given without parental consent. This victory for parental rights resulted in the formation of a district-wide Parent’s Committee to review intrusive surveys, the shredding of the original surveys, and an acknowledgment by the district that future personally invasive surveys would not be administered without parental consent. The court ordered the school district to provide in-service training for all employees about parental rights and to put all state and federal parental rights laws in the parent handbook.
  • Mary Moore v. Northside ISD (PARENTAL RIGHTS AND HOME SCHOOLING)  Mary Moore was denied class rank and recognition of her home school credits when she re-enrolled as a senior in Marshall High School. She was required to achieve a score of 85 to get credit for the courses she had already taken, whereas the public school children who were only required to pass with a 70.  The Texas Justice Foundation helped Mary receive full credit as a graduating senior, allowing her to attend senior prom and graduate with her class.  The district made changes to its policies allowing the school to give home school transfer students full credit for courses simply from a review of the material or if a test was given, the student had to pass with the same grade as a regular public school student.
  • James N. v. Sinton ISD (PARENTAL RIGHTS)  In a case of first impression, the Commissioner of Education ruled that parents have the absolute right to legal counsel at school board hearings and grievances.  The Sinton ISD had refused a parent the right to be represented by counsel at a grievance hearing before the school board, while the school board had its attorney present. The Commissioner of Education called this action “arbitrary and capricious, ” ruling that denying a parent attorney representation at a hearing would deny that parent a fair hearing.
  • C.J. Chiu et al v. Plano ISD (PARENTAL RIGHTS)  After being refused the right to free speech and expression, and after violating the Texas Education Code’s provisions allowing parents to reasonably request the addition of a specific academic class, parents sued the Plano school district in federal court for violations of free speech/ expression, and parental rights. The Plano ISD, which has implemented the controversial “Connected Math Program” in its middle school campuses has chosen to ignore the signed petitions of the parents of over 600 middle school students, who reasonably request that the district offer an option to the mandatory Connected Math class for those who desire. Sufficient interest has been shown to make it economically practical for the district to grant these requests.

V. RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

  • Doe v. Santa Fe ISD (RELIGIOUS LIBERTY) The Texas Justice Foundation filed an Amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Santa Fe ISD v. Doe arguing in support of school prayer at football games on behalf of 26 legislators, 53 parents, 44 students, nine teachers, and one school district (Blanco ISD).
  • Bonnie R. v. Northeast ISD (RELIGIOUS LIBERTY IN EDUCATION)  TJF successfully demanded an apology and change in practice allowing a second grader to bring his Bible to school when other children could bring any book from home to read silently in class when assigned work is completed.
  • Our Savior Lutheran Church v. Bexar County Parks Department (RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION)  TJF successfully represented our Savior Lutheran Church in its request to have access to a county park to conduct its Easter Sunrise Service in April, 1999.  Previously, the County Parks Department refused to allow the church access to the property to conduct a religious service.  The Texas Justice Foundation sent a letter to the Parks Department explaining the law and the illegality of the Parks Department’s position.  The Civil Division of the District Attorney’s Office agreed with TJF and ordered the Parks Department to allow the church to conduct religious services.
  • City of San Antonio v. Thompson (LIMITED GOVERNMENT; FREE MARKETS RELIGIOUS LIBERTY)  TJF successfully defended Alamo City Taxi Owner, Vincent Thompson, against the City.  The City gave Mr. Thompson’s business a citation for offering discount cab fare to citizens who wanted to attend religious services.  At the municipal court hearing, after an administrative law hearing, the citation was found to be unwarranted, and the previous hearing officer’s decision was reversed.

VI. OPEN RECORDS

  • Texas Public Policy Foundation v. TAPTA (OPEN RECORDS)  TJF successfully represented a conservative state think tank in Open Records Request for data for a study on the effectiveness of a state agency.  Numerous other citizens and groups have been helped to obtain data for watchdog actions on state government.
  • Fish and NAACP (Dallas Chapter) v. Dallas ISD (OPEN RECORDS)  TJF went to court seeking the release of records from Dallas ISD with respect to ITBS reading and math scores of students.  The complaint alleges violation of the Texas Open Records Act and illegal delay and excessive costs in providing the information to our clients.  This information will be posted on a website in Dallas and will be used for statistical analysis that will reveal which campuses are effectively teaching reading and mathematics skills to children.  Currently on appeal.

VII. WOMEN’S HEALTH PROTECTION

  • Kaminsky v. Archer Representing women who were permanently and severely injured through abortions, TJF filed for intervention in a suit where abortion doctors sued the State of Texas because of increased regulation on facilities. Abortion doctors wanted to rescind a law that required doctors who performed over 300 abortions to be licensed.  TJF filed on the side of the State of Texas to uphold the law and protect women from dangerous medical procedures.