Voters should replace the five members of the Texas Supreme Court who issued an opinion weakening the state Open Beaches Act, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said Monday.
“We now have private beaches in Texas where the public can be excluded,” Patterson said. “I think folks should remember this when it’s time to vote.”
In an 5-3 decision, Justice Dale Wainwright wrote that the Open Beaches Act “does not create easements for public use along Texas Gulf-front beaches.” Public access exists only where established by long-term use, the opinion said.
Public access continues as gradual erosion moves the beach landward, but it ends if the beach is eroded by an “evulsive” event, such as a storm, according to the opinion. Justices Nathan L. Hecht, Paul W. Green, Phil Johnson and Don R. Willett joined Wainwright.
See here for some background. For the record, Justices Hecht and Willett are on the ballot this year. Willett has a primary opponent, while Hecht will be challenged in November by Democrat Michele Petty. (Justice David Medina, who dissented, is also on the ballot and has two GOP primary challengers, one of whom is the ever persistent John Devine.) When you go to vote in these races this year, just remember what Jerry Patterson said and you’ll be fine. Burka has more.