2014 Primary: Texas Supreme Court Races

Continuing a look at the 2014 Republican Primary in Texas, I take a look at the three contested Supreme Court races on the ballot. Much has been written about “Democrat trial lawyers” influencing the races but there is more to that story than meets the eye or the rhetoric. Mark Lanier is no Democrat and has funded hundreds of Republican candidates through the years. And I think that the entire justice system would be better off being non-partisan, if we could just figure out a way to do that.

Don’t worry so much about who funds who – in fact, most candidates at this level have received funding from trial lawyers in both parties. And don’t worry too much about the term “trial lawyer” – although we often use it as a pejorative, the fact is that our society is so complex they are as necessary as any other professional.

Chief Justice Supreme Court

Robert Talton with Robert Talton III
Robert Talton with Robert Talton III

Robert Talton is my choice. Robert is a rock solid conservative upon whom no one can exert influence. He will rule based upon the law and the law only. He will not be an activist jurist, throwing away a hundred and fifty years of law in order to push an ideological agenda, as current Chief Justice Nathan Hecht did in his vote gutting the Texas Open Beaches Act. Here is what Attorney General Greg Abbott had to say about that ruling:

Now Texas AG Greg Abbott—backed by a strange-bedfellows coalition including the Texas Surfriders Foundation, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and the Galveston Chamber of Commerce—is asking the Supremes to reconsider their decision in the case, Severance v Patterson. In its request for a rehearing, the office of the AG basically accuses the majority of that conservative bugaboo… judicial activism.

“With the stroke of a pen, a divided court has effectively eliminated the public’s rights on the dry beach,” says the attorney general’s request for rehearing. “[T]he majority could only cite—nothing. Not a single case, rule, precedent, principle, empirical study, scientific review, or anything else.”

You can say that I’m a single issue voter in this race and that would be entirely accurate. Gutting the Texas Open Beaches Act like that is going to have long term, far-reaching implications. Think about not going to Galveston Island because celebrities and the super rich own all of the beaches. Or Padre Island. Will Robert Talton III in the picture above have the opportunity to take his fiancé to the beach?

Note that AG Abbott said that “[T]he majority could only cite—nothing.” We should not have a judicial activist as the Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court.

People mock Robert Talton for “only” having been a municipal judge. Well, I think that is a badge of honor. Speaking of badges, Robert actually wore a badge while getting his law degree, patrolling the streets and back alleys of Pasadena. And then he served honorably as a state representative from my home city of Pasadena. And he would have won the Harris County County Attorney race in 2012 if a couple of Republican “leaders” weren’t deathly afraid of having no influence over the office if their underhanded dealings were ever exposed. Robert is a friend and a man of highest integrity. I urge you to vote for him in this race.

Website: TaltonForChiefJustice.com

Justice Supreme Court Place 6

Justice Jeff Brown
Justice Jeff Brown

Jeff Brown is the easy and clear choice in this race. I’ve supported Brown since he ran for the Supreme Court in 2010 and was thrilled when Gov. Perry appointed him to the court last year. He is a textbook conservative jurist, applying the law without bias or activism. I think that someday he will be in line for an appointment to the US Supreme Court. It helps that his opponent has no qualifications for the job but it would have been an easy pick regardless. Highly recommended.

Website: JusticeJeffBrown.com

Justice Supreme Court Place 8

Well, here is where my single issue vote runs into trouble. Incumbent Justice Phil Johnson also voted to gut the Texas Open Beaches Act. Unfortunately, his opponent Justice Sharon McCally has her own issues and I can’t bring myself to vote for her. I’m going to hold my nose and vote for Phil Johnson.

Website: JusticePhilJohnson.com


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  1. Voter says

    Former municipal (traffick ticket) Judge with no judicial appellate experience for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas. Lanier is a conservative on social issues. His politics on judicial issues aligns with the liberal Democrats and his own business interests. No amount of financial contributions to Republican candidates can change that. Lanier and his personal injury trial lawyer colleagues (mostly Obama Democrat donors) stand to make hundreds of millions of dollars by liberalizing the Texas Supreme Court. So where is the “afluenza”?

    • Mark McCaig says

      It is not uncommon for Texas Supreme Court Justices not to have prior judicial experience. Current Justices Don Willett and Jeff Boyd had not served on the bench prior to their appointments. I don’t believe that Wallace Jefferson, who recently stepped down as Chief Justice, had served as a judge prior to his service on the Supreme Court.

  2. says

    I disagree with your stand on the beaches. An “act of God,” in the form of a hurricane, changed the waterfront and would take the land of people who bought, built, and paid taxes. These citizens have property rights that should trump the State’s interest in the particular beaches.

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