Rodriguez v. Terrell Wells Swimming Pool


By: James P. Spencer

Type: General Entry

Published: February 19, 2018

Updated: August 4, 2020


Rodriguez v. Terrell Wells Swimming Pool was a Texas court case in which the plaintiff, Jacob I. Rodriguez, sought an injunction against Terrell Wells Swimming Pool, Inc., to force its managers to extend accommodations and access to Terrell Wells swimming pool in San Antonio to Mexican-Americans, who had previously been denied entry. In this case, heard in the Seventy-third District Court in Bexar County, Rodriguez’s attorneys argued that, due to House Concurrent Resolution No. 105, passed in 1943 by the Forty-eighth Texas Legislature and affirmed through proclamation by Governor Coke R. Stevenson on June 25, 1943, all people of “Caucasian Race” must be treated equally to one another. The resolution originated from the Texas Good Neighbor Commission, operating as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy towards Latin America. The court ruled in favor of Rodriguez.

However, Terrell Wells Swimming Pool, Inc., and its president and general manager H. E. Stumberg, appealed the court’s ruling. In the subsequent case, Terrell Wells Swimming Pool et al. v. Rodriguez (1944), in the Court of Civil Appeals in San Antonio, the appellate court judges overturned the lower court’s decision and stated that the House resolution and proclamation by the governor were not law, and if the legislature desired to change the laws by including civil rights language they would have passed a bill doing so.

Prior to the landmark United States Supreme Court case of Hernández v. State of Texas in 1954, Mexican Americans had been subjected to segregation in Texas alongside African Americans. The case of Rodriguez v. Terrell Wells and its subsequent appellate case served as a steppingstone toward defining Mexican Americans as a distinct ethnic group, and scholarly works have credited this as one of the earliest cases to demonstrate that the “racial identity of Mexican Americans was still unclear under the law.” While the court’s initial ruling on Rodriguez was overturned on appeal, which meant that Mexican Americans could be discriminated against based on their ancestry, in 1954 the U. S. Supreme Court ruled in Hernández v. State of Texas that the legal protection of the Fourteenth Amendment extended to Mexican Americans as a separate class.

Terrell Wells Swimming Pool v. Rodriguez, Casetext (https://casetext.com/case/terrell-wells-swimming-pool-v-rodriguez), accessed February 17, 2018. Reynaldo Anaya Valencia, Sonia R. García, Henry Flores, and José Roberto Juárez, Jr., eds., Mexican Americans & the Law (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2004).

Categories:
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Politics and Government
  • Court Cases and Controversies
  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Activism and Social Reform
Time Periods:
  • World War II

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

James P. Spencer, “Rodriguez v. Terrell Wells Swimming Pool,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/rodriguez-v-terrell-wells-swimming-pool.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 19, 2018
August 4, 2020

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: