they were to accept their case.” The two biggest contributors to the court had over 50% of their cases heard, while the rate was 5% for non-contributors. Craig McDonald, Texas-Sized Contributions to Texas Supreme Court, TomPaine.com, November 1, 2001.
Editorial proclaims: “Texas Chief Justice Tom Phillips’ decision to run for re- election next year is welcome news to those who look for stability and continuity from the state Supreme Court.” According to the editorial, Chief Justice Phillips’ re-election is virtually guaranteed, since he is unlikely to face a Republican challenger in the primary and because he handily defeated his Democratic opponents in the last two elections. It praises Chief Justice Phillips for restoring the Court’s “reputation for professionalism badly battered by scandals and unprofessional conduct in the 1980s,” an especially difficult task given the state’s partisan elections. It anticipates that Chief Justice Phillips’ leadership will be sorely needed as the Court next year faces the possibility of having five new Justices on the bench. It concludes, “Phillips’ long service on the court and his highly personal brand of leadership will be a calming influence in this period of change.” Stability on the Bench, Austin American-Statesman, November 5, 2001.
Column discusses Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips’ plans for reforming judicial elections. Chief Justice Phillips maintains that the main problems with the state’s judicial elections are their partisan nature and the increasing expense of campaigns. According to the columnist, this means that “[v]irtually all Texas judges are vulnerable to charges of conflicts of interest.” Chief Justice Phillips himself is no exception: “while he has made his mark as the leader for judicial reform in Texas, Phillips also has demonstrated a willingness and ability to raise big bucks if his survival depends on it.” Bruce Davidson, Top Justice Sees Need for More Reform, San Antonio Express-News, November 11,
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has affirmed a district court ruling which dismissed a case alleging that Texas’ judicial campaign finance system deprives the state’s citizens of due process. A group of plaintiffs, including Public Citizen, argued that judicial candidates cannot maintain an appearance of impartiality when they accept campaign contributions from likely litigants. (See Court Pester, April 6, 2000.) The Appeals Court held, “[t]he injury-allegations at hand are too abstract and speculative to meet the constitutional standard for standing.” Associated Press, Appeals Court Upholds Ruling in Favor of State’s Judicial Campaign System, Abilene Reporter News, November 27, 2001.
Editorial calls on the U.S. Supreme Court to allow judicial candidates to speak about their legal views. The High Court will decide whether Minnesota’s prohibition of public discussion by judicial candidates of their political and legal views violates the First Amendment. (See Court Pester, December 4.) Noting that