Texas Southern University, Thurgood Marshall School
of Law has a unique history among America's law schools. The
history of the law school can be traced back to a 1946 lawsuit,
Sweatt v. Painter, brought by Herman M. Sweatt, which sought equal
protection for racial minorities under the U.S. Constitution. The
Texas Constitution mandated separate but equal facilities for whites
and blacks in accordance with the infamous precedent set in Plessy
v. Ferguson. Mr. Sweatt was refused admission to the University of
Texas School of Law because he was black. In order to pre-empt the
possibility of Mr. Sweatt obtaining a successful court order, the
legislature passed Texas State Senate Bill 140, which established a
university to offer courses of higher learning in law, pharmacy,
dentistry, journalism, education, arts and sciences, literature,
medicine, and other professional courses. It opened in 1946 as the
"Texas State University for Negroes," and later changed its name to
Texas Southern University in 1951. During its first academic year,
the law school was housed in Austin, Texas, and was subsequently
transferred to the new university campus in Houston.
The State of Texas established the institution in
1947 as Texas State University for Negroes in order to thwart the
integration of the law school at the University of Texas and
maintain that university as a "white only" institution. In 1946,
when the NAACP filed the Sweatt v. Painter lawsuit, the State of
Texas believed that it needed to establish a "Jim Crow" law school
in order to avoid an adverse result in that case. Thus, the
Thurgood Marshall School of Law, as well as the university at-large,
was created as a consequence of the 1946 lawsuit brought by Heman M.
Sweatt. It is important to note that it was Justice Thurgood
Marshall, chief counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund at the
time, who successfully argued Heman M. Sweatt's case before the
United States Supreme Court.
The Houston African American community was divided
on the question of whether to support the establishment of the new
"Jim Crow" institution or fight for the integration of the
University of Texas. Some believed that equalization of African
American educational opportunity could be achieved at the new "Jim
Crow" institution. However, the NAACP took the position that the
educational equality of Texas African Americans could only be
achieved by integration, which left no place for the establishment
of the "Jim Crow" Texas Southern University. Thus, the law school
began without the support of Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP.
Since its move to Houston, the law school has
become an integral part of the Texas Southern University campus.
Prior to 1976, the law school was housed in Hannah Hall—the
University's administrative complex. On February 14, 1976, the
school was formally named the Thurgood Marshall School of Law in
honor of the distinguished U.S. Supreme Court Justice who served as
lead counsel in the Sweatt v. Painter case and was moved to its
From the beginning, the Thurgood Marshall School
of Law has focused on the important task of providing an equal legal
educational opportunity to under-served citizens of the State of
Texas. One of the first contributions the law school made was the
development of a new cadre of leaders in the African American
Likewise, the law school has been greatly enriched
by the contributions of its culturally diverse students and faculty.
The Thurgood Marshall School of Law is proud that it has produced
numerous attorneys and judges of all ethnicities—thereby,
significantly impacting the diversity of the nation's legal
Though the school opened its doors in 1947, the
law review was not established until 1970. It was originally called
the Texas Southern Intramural Law Review. The very first article
published in the law review concerned the shortage of
African-American attorneys within the legal profession. The
Thurgood Marshall School of Law has helped to alter that landscape
and now ranks in the top five for law schools graduating
African-American attorneys, as well as in the top 25 for the number
of Mexican-American graduates. The Thurgood Marshall School of Law
has been recognized as the most diverse law school in the country by
US News and World Report.
From 1971-1981 the Law Review was called the Texas
Southern University Law Review. After the law school formally
changed its name to the Thurgood Marshall School of Law in 1976, the
Law Review followed suit in 1981 by renaming the journal the
Thurgood Marshall Law Review. The first issue under the new name
was volume 7-1. Now, with over 40 years of publication, the law
review is an intense legal research and writing forum for legal
scholars and practitioners from around the world.
The mission of the Thurgood Marshall Law Review today is to:
Be a principal medium through which new legal thought and
opinions are presented to the legal profession.
Present quality professional work that is published through
industrious solicitation of the profession, discriminating
evaluation, and careful editing of the manuscripts submitted.
Publish student works of exceptional quality in order to
ensure the reputable standing of the law review.
Foster and promote quality writing within the legal
Do all that is necessary to accomplish these goals.