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Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Glaring Decisis

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick: Texas Side-Step: Have the Supreme Court’s opinions become suggestions in Texas?

Well, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals—that state’s highest court—has figured out a better way to thwart a clear directive from the U.S. Supreme Court. When the Texas court was instructed, in a 2004 decision about the constitutionality of its jury instructions, to reconsider its approach to its death-penalty cases, the Texas court didn’t go the Parker route of name-calling and fomenting revolution. Instead, it just politely thanked the Supremes for their interesting insights, then effectively switched the standard of review and ignored them. You might think the current justices would be hopping mad about that. But the lesson to be learned in Smith v. Texas is that when a lower court wants to appeal a higher court’s decision, it need only wait around for a change in personnel.

Oh, snap. The whole thing’s worth a read.

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