Open Government Project
A Government Watchdog Group
State of Texas
City of Galveston
Public Interest Groups
Does the Conciliation Agreement Violate the Equal Protection Clause?
Does Anyone in the City of Galveston have any Rights other than Current or Future Public Housing Residents?
by David Stanowski
27 August 2010
The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted in 1868 as a method to guarantee citizenship to freed slaves, and to extend the rights granted by the Bill of Rights to the citizens of each state, so that a state government could not deprive them of their rights. This Amendment has been used as the basis for many civil rights cases involving Black plaintiffs, such as Brown v. Board of Education, and was gradually extended to include other “protected classes”. However, this left an open question as to whether the Fourteenth Amendment applied to people who were not members of “protected classes”.
The Equal Protection Clause of Section 1 states "no state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws". If this truly applies to everyone, then it can be used as the basis to determine if the citizens of the City of Galveston are being treated UNEQUALLY in comparison to people living in other parts of the County, and the State.
The question at hand is whether the State of Texas can enter into a Conciliation Agreement that forces the 48,000 residents of the City of Galveston to bare the burden of building, operating, and maintaining at least 979 public housing units while they make no such requirement of the 227,000 residents living in other parts of the County. In fact, the Agreement mandates no building or rebuilding of any public housing units in Galveston County, outside of this city, which certainly appears to be unequal treatment under State law.
Fortunately, George W. Bush used the Equal Protection Clause in Bush v. Gore to challenge the method of recounting the ballots in the 2000 presidential election, and the Supreme Court decided that the different standards of counting ballots across the State of Florida did violate this clause. The Court held the Equal Protection Clause guarantees to individuals that their ballots cannot be devalued by "later arbitrary and disparate treatment". Since this applied to all of the voters in the State of Florida, not just those in protected classes, this ruling should confirm that the Fourteenth Amendment does apply to everyone!
“Bush argued that recounts in Florida violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, because there was no statewide standard that each county board could use to determine whether a given ballot was a legal vote. Each county used its own standard to manually recount each vote…”
It would certainly appear that since the State of Texas also fails to use a uniform statewide standard for the location of public housing; it has violated the Equal Protection Clause, making the Conciliation Agreement null and void!
When is the City Council going to challenge this blatant discrimination against the residents of this city?
Next Question: Does the Conciliation Agreement violate the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?