Texas Supreme Court dismisses 2015 statue lawsuit against UT

Forrest Milburn

The Texas Supreme Court decided Friday not to hear a lawsuit against President Gregory Fenves for the removal of two statues in 2015 that depicted a former U.S. and Confederate president.

The plaintiffs in the suit are Steven Littlefield, a descendent of George Littlefield, the former Confederate officer who commissioned the statues in his will, and the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The court’s decision to not hear the case effectively upholds the decision of the Texarkana Sixth Court of Appeals, which determined that plaintiffs did not have grounds to sue.

In a statement, UT spokesperson J.B. Bird said the University felt they had a “strong position” going into the case if the court had decided to take up the case, but they are pleased with the action.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans said in a statement they were disappointed with the decision, arguing they had grounds to sue Fenves and would have won if the court decided to review the case.

"In their refusal to openly discuss the merits of the case, the high court has paid our position the highest possible compliment, because our position in the law was unassailable and could have been defeated only by a refusal to consider," SCV lead counsel Justice C.L. Ray said.

The statues in question depicted former Confederate President Jefferson Davis and former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. In 2015, Fenves ordered the statue removal after a push from Student Government and the student body.

The 2015 suit is similar to a case filed last month against Fenves for his removal of the remaining statues that lined the University’s South Mall, which George Littlefield also commissioned in his will. They depicted former Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee, John Reagan and Albert Johnston, as well as former Texas Gov. James Hogg, who had no ties to the Civil War.