The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

This position would lead to the assertion that the election of
Richard Coke as governor and the adoption of the Supreme
Court amendment in the election of December 2, 1873, were void.
In fact it would provide another ground for saying Rodriguez
should be granted his writ of habeas corpus despite his alleged
overactive voting proclivities. It would also question the validity
of the actions of the court which immediately followed the
Semicolon Court and which also operated under the Constitu-
tion of 1869. This court was appointed by Governor Coke and
served until the adoption of the 1876 Constitution. Organized on
February 2, 1874, the court was composed of Oran M. Roberts,
chief justice, and George F. Moore, Reuben A. Reeves, Thomas
J. Devine, and William P. Ballinger, associate justices. Ballinger,
shortly thereafter, resigned and was succeeded by Robert S.
Gould. When Judge Devine resigned in 1875, John Ireland, after-
wards governor, took his place.26
Oran M. Roberts, one of the most distinguished of Texans, who
served his state as governor and chief justice and was elected to
the United States Senate, but was refused his seat by the radical
majority of that body, was, as might be supposed, much incensed
by the Semicolon decision. In his historical writings, Judge
Roberts said:
This decision was in harmony with that [the Davis] administra-
tion; but it deserves to be noticed as standing in disharmony with
every other decision that was ever pronounced by our Supreme
Court; in this, that no one except a few officers interested in it ever
paid any respect to it as binding authority; no lawyer would ever
cite it as authority in any court; no judge would ever refer to it as a
judicial precedent; and therefore it stands solitary and alone upon
the records of that court, to be remembered only with the regret that
such a decision was made by a court that has so uniformly possessed
the confidence of the people of Texas. It is known in our judicial
history as the "Semicolon Decision," and the judges who rendered it
are known among lawyers as the "Semicolon Court." So odious has it
been in the estimation of the bar of the State, that no Texas lawyer
likes to cite any case from the volumes of the Supreme Court reports
which contain .the decisions of the court that delivered that opinion,
and their cases are, as it were, tabooed by the common consent of the
legal profession.27
26Wooten, Comprehensive History of Texas, II, 20o9.
27lbid., 2o.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101173/. Accessed April 19, 2014.