Price Daniel was a Texas lawyer who acted both in a private capacity and as the state's Attorney General, as well as serving as a Senator from 1953 to 1957 prior to being elected governor of the state.
One of the most prominent early cases Price Daniel argued was Sweatt v. Painter, argued before the Supreme Court in 1950. The case had its origins in 1946, when African-American Heman Marion Sweatt, attempted to enroll in the University of Texas School of Law located in Austin, TX. Though he was academically qualified, his application was rejected because state law prohibited integrated scholastic facilities. Sweatt filed suit, claiming his rights under the Equal Protection Clause. While his hearings were delayed, the University of Texas constructed a separate school for African-American students based in Houston.
When the case was argued before the Supreme Court, Price Daniel represented the state of Texas. Price Daniel argued that state law prohibited integrated education, and that separate and equal facilities had been provided for African-American students. However, the Supreme Court rejected these arguments on a number of levels. The Supreme Court noted that the separate facilities were relatively understaffed, provided less facilities, and conferred less prestige upon graduates. Additionally, the Supreme Court noted that keeping the facility isolated geographically from where students would be applying to work conferred a further disadvantage upon them.
Another prominent case Price Daniel argued before the Supreme Court concerned states rights' to claim ownership of oil found on submerged Gulf of Mexico territory. Formerly, this land had been understood to belong to the states, but the issue became contested when the federal government sued the state of California in 1946. Texas joined with many other states in this lawsuit, and Price Daniel presented the argument on their behalf in 1947.
In its lawsuit against California, the federal government cited a number of reasons for its claim of ownership, including the claim that previous Supreme Court rulings on these types of issues were erroneous and should be discarded, and that issues of national defense or international relations gave the federal government authority to claim ownership if it seemed to be in the best interest of the country. Price Daniel unsuccessfully argued on behalf of the states, but the Supreme Court issued a decision in favor of the federal government, 4 to 3.
In another lawsuit, the federal government sued Texas. Again under the direction of Price Daniel, the state of Texas gathered support for its right to the land it claimed from 11 experts in the field of international law. Once again, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the federal government.
In 1952, Price Daniel was elected to the Senate and accomplished by legislative means what he had been unable to do as Attorney General. As the co-author of a 1953 bill, Price Daniel finally was able to pass laws granting states the right to all such submerged lands.