St. Mary's Law Journal


Emilio M. Garza


William Lockhart Garwood died on July 14, 2011. In his thirty years on the court, Will would author numerous notable decisions, but his reputation would be solidified by two extraordinary cases: United States v. Lopez, in which, for the first time in recent judicial history, a court of appeals held that a congressional act was invalid as beyond the power of Congress under the Commerce Clause; and United States v. Emerson, in which, a court of appeals first articulated the Second Amendment protects individual Americans’ right to keep and bear arms. Neither case was without controversy. Not surprisingly, the Supreme Court of the United States generally adopted Will’s same analysis ion both cases.: Two years after United States v. Lopez, the Supreme Court affirmed Will’s courageous opinion, agreeing with his concern about the expansive nature of the Commerce Clause, and seven years after United States v. Emerson the Supreme Court generally adopted the same analysis in District of Columbia v. Heller. For those of us who knew him, his death came as a shock. The grief and shock were so overwhelming that there was what one judge described as “an eerie silence” for several days among the members of the court after his death. We were saddened by the realization that Will Garwood would no longer be on the court. We lost an irreplaceable colleague who exemplified judicial statesmanship in its noblest and most inspiring form. Yet for Will, the courtroom was not necessarily the most important part his life. Will was a loving husband, father, and grandfather who adored his grandchildren. He was kind and gentle—a true Texas gentleman. He enjoyed life and he enjoyed people. He was such a considerate friend and we will miss him dearly.


St. Mary's University School of Law