Article I, Section 3 of the Texas Constitution

From Texas Legal Guide
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Adopted February 15, 1876:

All free men, when they form a social compact, have equal rights, and no man, or set of men, is entitled to exclusive separate public emoluments, or privileges, but in consideration of public services.

Editor Comments

This is the natural rights section of the state constitution. However, the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals have always treated it as simply an equal rights provision.

In addition, for at least the last twenty-five years, all published decisions have assumed that the substance of this section and the substance of the federal equal protection clause are identical.

Steve Smith

Recent Decisions

  • Fort Worth Osteopathic Hosp., Inc. v. Reese, 148 S.W.3d 94, 97-98 (Tex. 2004) ("The Fourteenth Amendment provides that 'No State shall . . . deny to any person . . . the equal protection of the laws.' U.S. CONST. amend XIV, § 1. The Texas Constitution contains a similar provision: '. . . .' TEX. CONST. art. 1, § 3. The parties do not argue any distinction between these two clauses, and we have said that both guarantees 'require a similar multi-tiered analysis.' Ford Motor Co. v. Sheldon, 22 S.W.3d 444, 451 (Tex. 2000); see also Rose v. Doctors Hosp., 801 S.W.2d 841, 846 (Tex. 1990) ('Texas cases echo federal standards when determining whether a statute violates equal protection.').")
  • Bell v. Low Income Women of Texas, 95 S.W.3d 253, 265-66 (Tex. 2002) ("They rely on two cases which they claim suggest that we have 'applied a rational basis test more exacting than mere reasonableness,' in which the statutory classification must be rationally related not only to a legitimate state interest as required under federal law, but to the very object or subject of the legislation. . . . We do not read Whitworth and Richards to establish the more exacting standard the plaintiffs suggest. To the extent they might suggest such a standard, we have recently clarified that the federal analytical approach applies to equal protection challenges under the Texas Constitution.")
  • Cannady v. State, 11 S.W.3d 205, 215 (Tex.Crim.App. 2000) (footnotes omitted) ("Cannady recognizes that this Court in the past has held that the Texas equal rights provision and the federal equal protection provision are coterminous. But he urges us to reconsider these holdings. This we will not do. . . . Therefore, a claim that a provision of the capital murder statute violates equal protection is reviewed using the rational basis test and the challenged classification need only be 'rationally related to a legitimate governmental purpose.' We have recognized that states have a legitimate and compelling interest in maintaining the safe, orderly, and effective functioning of prisons.")
  • Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Found. v. Lewellen, 952 S.W.2d 454, 464-65 (Tex. 1997) (citations omitted) ("The Legislature has broad discretion in enacting social or economic legislation that does not classify on suspect categories, such as race, or impinge on fundamental rights. Under both federal and state equal protection analysis, such legislation is valid as long as it is rationally related to a legitimate state interest. . . . The equal protection clause is not, without more, violated merely because a law treats different geographic regions or political subdivisions differently, or because it allows political subdivisions the discretion to adopt or reject a statutory scheme.")

Historic Decisions

  • Richards v. LULAC, 868 S.W.2d 306, 310-11 (Tex. 1993) (citations omitted) ("[E]qual protection challenges under the Texas Constitution are reviewed under a multi-tiered system. Generally, we require only that the classification under challenge be rationally related to a legitimate state purpose. The general rule gives way, however, when the classification impinges on the exercise of a fundamental right, or when the classification distinguishes between people, in terms of any right, on a 'suspect' basis such as race or national origin. In those instances, the state action is subjected to strict scrutiny, requiring that the classification be narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest.")
  • Whitworth v. Bynum, 699 S.W.2d 194, 196-97 (Tex. 1985) (citations omitted) ("Subject to adhering to minimal federal standards, we are at liberty to interpret state statutes in light of our own constitution and to fashion our own tests to determine a statute's constitutionality. . . . This is particularly true when a state court is acting within a subject area uniquely appropriate for a state's judiciary, such as the common law. An examination of Texas cases reveals the standards we have previously set in respect to equal protection. A court begins by presuming a statute's constitutionality, whether the basis of the constitutional attack is grounded in due process or equal protection.")
  • Avery v. Midland County, 406 S.W.2d 422, 427 (Tex. 1966) ("The requirements of Article V, Section 18, of the Texas Constitution are to be construed and enforced consistently with Article I, Section 3, commonly referred to as the equal rights or equal protection clause of the Texas Constitution. Cf. Railroad Commission v. Shell Oil Co., 139 Tex. 66, 161 S.W.2d 1022 (1942). Equal protection of laws is not secured if persons are deprived of equality in political rights or otherwise subjected to an arbitrary exercise of governmental powers. See Burroughs v. Lyles, [] 181 S.W.2d 570 (1944); Mumme v. Marrs, [] 40 S.W.2d 31 (1931); Glasgow v. Terrell, [] 102 S.W. 98 (1907).")
  • Rucker v. State, 342 S.W.2d 325, 326-27 (Tex.Crim.App. 1961) ("Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution of Texas, Vernon's Ann.St., and the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States secure to all persons similarly circumstanced equal protection under the laws of this state or any subdivision thereof, and it is a well-settled rule in all jurisdictions that a penal ordinance of a municipal corporation constitutes state action subject to these fundamental provisions . . . . Unequal treatment of persons under a state law which is founded upon unreasonable and unsubstantial classification constitutes discriminatory state action and violates both the state and federal constitutions.")
  • San Antonio Retail Grocers v. Lafferty, 297 S.W.2d 813, 815-17 (Tex. 1957) ("We consider, then, whether there is any reasonable basis for applying the restrictive provisions of the Act to grocery stores only. We recognize that the test is whether there is any basis for the classification which could have seemed reasonable to the Legislature. . . . We can conceive of no reasonable basis for applying the provisions of the Act to grocery stores and exempting other stores therefrom. Neither can we conceive of any basis therefor which could have seemed reasonable to the legislature. We agree with the conclusion of the trial court that the Act is unconstitutional.")
  • Watts v. Mann, 187 S.W.2d 917, 924 (Tex.Civ.App.—Austin 1945, ref'd) ("The principles here involved are of long standing and general acceptation. Substantially they are: The Legislature may classify law violators and impose different penalties, inhibitions and restrictions upon the several classes, provided there is a reasonable basis for the classification. In determining whether there is a reasonable basis for the classification there is a general presumption that the Legislature has done its duty, not violated the Constitution; and therefore the classification will be upheld unless it appears, clearly and without doubt, that it has no reasonable basis of support.")
  • Burroughs v. Lyles, 181 S.W.2d 570, 574 (Tex. 1944) (citations omitted) ("Article I, Section 3, of the Constitution guarantees to all persons equality of rights. This provision of the Constitution was designed to prevent any person, or class of persons, from being singled out as a special subject for discriminating or hostile legislation. This principle of equality also applies to political rights. Under the foregoing provision of the Constitution the Legislature has the power to adopt any classification it sees fit, provided there is a reasonable basis for such classification. . . . The discrimination is apparent, and we can perceive no reasonable basis for the classification.")
  • Friedman v. American Surety Co., 151 S.W.2d 570, 576-77 (Tex. 1941) (citations omitted) ("It is settled that [Article I, Section 3] guarantees to all men equality of rights. In spite of this, the State can adjust its legislation to differences in situation. Our Constitution does not forbid legislative classification of subjects and persons for the purpose of regulatory legislation, but it does require that the classification be not arbitrary or unreasonable. Classifications must be based on a real and substantial difference, having relation to the subject of particular enactment. If there is a reasonable ground for the classification, and the law operates equally on all within the same class, it will be held valid.")
  • Mumme v. Marrs, 40 S.W.2d 31, 36 (Tex. 1931) ("[L]egislation is not open to objection if all who are brought under its influence are treated alike in the same circumstances. 9 Texas Jurisprudence, p. 553, s 117. In the very nature of society, with its manifold occupations and contacts, the Legislature must have, and clearly does have, authority to classify subjects of legislation, and, when the classification is reasonable—that is, based upon some real difference existing in the subject of the enactment—and the law applies uniformly to those who are within the particular class, the act is not open to constitutional objection. 9 Texas Jurisprudence, p. 555, s 119, p. 558, s 120, p. 561, s 121.")
  • Glasgow v. Terrell, 102 S.W. 98, 99 (Tex. 1907) ("Every state has of necessity dual functions to perform—first, its political functions, which affect the public; second, its private functions, such as the acquisition of private property and the disposition of property already acquired. The latter are not in our opinion affected by the provision of the Constitution in question. It was so held in the case of Williams v. Cammack, 27 Miss. 209, 61 Am. Dec. 508, in which a provision of the Constitution of Mississippi couched in substantially the same language was in question. . . . We have found no other case in which the words 'public emoluments and privileges' have been construed.")
  • Union Cent. Life Ins. Co. v. Chowning, 26 S.W. 982, 984 (Tex. 1894) ("Appellant's counsel assert that the article in question is in conflict with article 1, § 3, of the constitution of the state of Texas, which is in these words: '. . . .' It is not shown just how the law violates this section, and, indeed, it would be difficult to imagine how a corporation which has no natural rights could be said to be entitled to such rights and privileges as grow out of the formation of a social compact. It is the creature of law, and entitled to just such rights as the law grants to it. When granted, such rights are protected from invasion the same as the rights of any natural person.")

Library Resources

Online Resources