Justice Tom Phillips as well as Republican lawmakers and “a long list of GOP leaders from recent decades.” “Responsible GOP leaders advocated judicial reform in the 1980s when Democrats made a mockery of justice with cozy relationships with plaintiff lawyers. Now the pendulum has veered in favor of business interests and the GOP.” Noting that “the state party’s rhetoric has singled out Phillips for abuse,” the columnist argues that “the crew in the GOP’s Austin headquarters is placing partisanship before justice.” The columnist concludes: “Republicans who put Texas first will take a stand for judicial reform while they have the power to make a difference.” Bruce Davidson, GOP Leaders Battling Judicial Reform, San Antonio Express-News, March 23, 2003.
Article reports that supporters of judicial election reform in Texas “say they’ve won bipartisan support for a bill that would let voters decide if the governor and state Senate would appoint Texas’ judges,” who would then face voters in nonpartisan retention elections. Make Texas Proud, a Republican group supporting the legislation, “includes such GOP luminaries as former Gov. Bill Clements, former Republican National Committee co-chairwoman Anne Armstrong and three former state party chairs.” However, the Texas Republican Party opposes ending direct judicial elections, as do “some Democrats and civil- rights groups such as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.” Max B. Baker, Groups Push for Judicial Reform, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 21, 2003.
Article reports that “despite last-ditch efforts by Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips to get it passed, a bill allowing voters to decide whether judges should be appointed rather then elected appeared headed for certain death” in the state House Judiciary Committee. The proposal would have allowed voters to remove judges in nonpartisan retention elections. Rep. Elizabeth Ames Jones (R.), who authored the House version of the bill, said, “I’m not sure why people are afraid to hear healthy debate on the House floor” on this issue. The Texas Republican Party opposed the bill; a spokesman “said passing the bill would have given special-interest groups even more influence over the process through their campaign contributions to the governor and senators.” Max B. Baker, Outlook Bleak for Judge Bill, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 25, 2003.
Column discusses perceptions of corruption arising from campaign donations to justices on the Texas Supreme Court. Dawn Richardson, who filed a lawsuit against David Weekley Homes, the company which built her house, said she was dismayed to learn that the Weekley family and a related political action committee had donated money to seven of the nine current state Supreme Court justices. She said, “[The Supreme Court] is supposed to be the most sacred place in the state. And it’s human nature to help the people that support you. How are we going to go up against that?” The columnist notes that even Weekley’s lawyer
former Supreme Court justice Raul Gonzalez - concedes that the system creates