A Conservator at Texas Southern University is a Betrayal of Texas Tradition

by Robert Muhammad

The history of Texas includes seven constitutions. The State Constitution of 1876 is characterized by three general principles: popular sovereignty, limited government, and separation of powers. Popular sovereignty is a term summarized by the phrase, “all political power is inherent in the people” found in Article 1, Section 2 of the Texas Constitution of 1876.

Limited government is a direct result of Texas historic events leading to the seventh and present state constitution dated 1876. Limited government in the Texas Constitution is the repudiation of the dictatorial rule of the post Civil War Reconstruction Republican Governor E.A. Davis. Separation of powers is not just the checks and balances dividing Texas government into the executive, legislative and judicial branches. In Texas, separation of powers also means, all statewide offices, Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, and the entire judiciary, from the Justice of Peace to the Texas Supreme Court, are elected by the people. The people of Texas determined long ago that a unitary all powerful executive form of government was not congruent with limited government, separation of powers, and popular sovereignty.

What is good for the people of Texas is good for Texas Southern University. Governor Perry should immediately appoint a new Board of Regents of extraordinary powerful persons to fix the problems of the troubled university, not appoint a conservator for one year with extraordinary powers. To appoint TSU “czar” flies in the face of Texas tradition, the recommendations of the TSU blue ribbon commission he appointed, and will ultimately undermine the prestige of the Governor’s office. The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America states that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” To a conservator being appointed at TSU, the people say, “No, we do not consent!” Therefore, any attempt to impose this upon a non consenting citizenry is unjust and unwise. The Governor’s actions regarding TSU will bear fruit of discord and division in this state that may never heal. The Governor should appoint a new board of regents immediately; help them fix the problems he is partially responsible for and drop the idea of placing TSU in conservatorship.