The six justices of the 3rd Court of Appeals are elected by voters from 24 Central Texas counties, and four seats are up this year. The incumbents are Diane Henson (Democrat,) David Puryear (Republican,) Bob Pemberton (Republican,) and Jeff Rose (Republican). All four have challengers. I wrote earlier this year about Scott Field, the Republican facing Henson. (Henson, a liberal activist judge, was in the news most recently for her appalling lack of objectivity.)
The three other incumbents, Puryear, Pemberton, and Rose, are all being challenged by liberal activist candidates who are financially supported by trial lawyer PAC, The Judicial "Fairness" Fund. Although state law usually caps individual contributions to judicial candidates at $5,000, the trial lawyers heading JFF are exploiting a loophole that allows them to spend exponentially more to re-elect Henson and three other liberal activists to the court.
How much does it matter? One of the Judicial "Trial Lawyer" Fund candidates is Bryan Case. Earlier this year, Case had attempted to run for the Travis County 167th District Court, but after he failed to gain traction there, he decided to try the Third Court of Appeals. In his previous run, Case stated,
"The Constitution of the US is a "living" document, and must be interpreted accordingly. So, the strict constructionist view must never prevail."And although Case has been trying to convince voters that he will "render decisions independent of political ideology," earlier this year he told the Travis County Democratic Club that:
"One must understand the indisputable observation that judges are quasi-politicians, and that there are good reasons for this."Case further elaborated on the role of the judiciary with this statement:
A judge's duty is to determine which highest values of our various communities conflict with other highest values of another community in a particular dispute or policy decision. At all points of decision-making, a judge must have what it takes in strength, experience, knowledge, mind, heart, and soul to determine, in the particular circumstances, which highest value must be set aside, if necessary, so that the purist and highest form of justice will prevail. (emphases added)Clearly, Mr. Case is not so much interested in upholding the US Constitution and strictly interpreting the law as he is in having the opportunity to re-write policy according to his view of the highest value.
Texans would be much better served by justices who understand that their role is to interpret law, not create policy. Of the candidates, Pemberton, Puryear, Rose, and Field are judges who work to interpret the law and Constitution as written, and they deserve our support in November.