state’s ethics code in line with the ruling. Because Texas’s code is similar to Minnesota’s, the ruling will likely have a dramatic effect on state judicial elections. Sherry Sylvester, High Court Edict Affects Texas, San Antonio Express- News, June 29, 2002.
Murry Cohen, formerly a judge on the First Court of Appeals in Houston, argues that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down Minnesota’s canon restricting judicial speech means that “things are about to get worse fast” in Texas judicial elections. “Various interest groups [will] pressure judicial candidates to state their opinions” on issues “ranging from abortion to zoning” as a “condition of endorsing them.” “Once that happens, what will be the difference between the judiciary and the legislature?” Murry Cohen, There Is Justice in Keeping Judges Muzzled, Houston Chronicle, July 5, 2002.
Column argues that Texas’s partisan judicial elections are “broken and badly in need of major changes” because they are “financed by groups that have a vested interest in the outcome of court proceedings” and have reduced judges to “money- grubbing politicians.” However, the major candidates for Texas governor and lieutenant governor have been reluctant to show “leadership” on the issue - indeed, the columnist asserts, “the state’s top statewide politicians are asleep at the wheel on judicial reform.” Although a change in selection method would have to be approved by voters in the form of a constitutional amendment, “the lieutenant governor could exercise considerable influence on judicial reform efforts in the Legislature,” ensuring legislation to support an amendment. “The integrity of the state’s judicial system is vital in protecting all citizens’ rights.” Bruce Davidson, Judicial Reform Is Still Badly Needed, San Antonio Express- News, June 30, 2002.
79. Article reports that Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips has announced that “in protest of the state’s ‘dysfunctional method of selecting judges,’ he is not accepting campaign contributions and will limit his re-election campaign spending to $20,000 already in his coffers.” His opponent, Democrat Richard G. Baker, has made a similar pledge. Denying that his pledge was a “publicity ploy,” Justice Phillips said, “It’s worth it for me because at this stage in my career I don’t have to have this office anymore, and I’d like to run a campaign that just sees what can be done differently.” Justice Phillips supports a merit selection system with retention elections. Armando Villafranca and Clay Robison, Chief Justice Rejecting Campaign Contributions, Houston Chronicle, July 13, 2002.
80. Editorial praises Texas Supreme court Chief Justice Tom Phillips for “showing leadership” for judicial election reform by announcing that he will not accept campaign contributions in his re-election bid. (See Court Pester, July 16.) Asserting that Justice Phillips “isn’t trying to embarrass other judges or prove he