Texas Supreme Court Bears Ideological Stamp of Governor Perry


Although Texas Supreme Court justices are elected, Gov. Rick Perry has played a key role in shaping the court through interim appointments, says the Texas Tribune. For example, he appointed Debra Lehrmann last June when Harriet O'Neill stepped down before her term was over. In November, Lehrmann handily beat her opponent to win a six-year term on the Supreme Court. A liberal advocate characterized the Perry court as “staunchly pro-defendant and anti-consumer.”

To date, only one of Perry's 10 Supreme Court appointees has ever lost an election. Perry has had the opportunity to appoint so many justices in part because of a financial disincentive for judges to remain on the bench once they are eligible to retire with full state benefits and a pension. Salaries in the private sector can be very alluring. Entering an election as an incumbent has advantages. Donors and lobbying groups are reluctant to go against a sitting justice, or one who has the governor's stamp of approval.

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