Texas Supreme Court to stay conservative

David Yates Nov. 6, 2008, 6:24am

Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson (R)

In stark contrast to the nation's swing to the left, Texas voters have elected to keep the state's Supreme Court conservative, voting back in three incumbent Republicans.

Democratic critics of the Texas Supreme Court, such as defeated Supreme Court hopeful Sam Houston – a trial lawyer, claim the court has been overly friendly to business and should be more balanced.

However, voters did not echo the plaintiff lawyer's sentiments, bestowing Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson with more than 4 million votes, or 53.07 percent. Democratic challenger Jim Jordan earned 43.82 percent, with around 3.3 million votes.

Even though he was reelected by winning the popular vote, Justice Jefferson has in public and on his re-election Web site said that he is a proponent of doing away with judicial elections.

"It is time to decide whether partisan election is the best means to ensure judicial competence," Jefferson says on his site.

"After this election … I will convene a summit of public citizens, officials, the media, lawyers, and will ask them to debate judicial selection. I will also ask them to consider how best to finance a judicial campaign. We will present our conclusions to the Legislature."

In Place 7 on the court, Dale Wainwright held onto his seat by receiving 3.9 million votes, or 51.08 percent, while Houston drummed up more than 3.5 million votes, or 45.89 percent.

"On Election Day, the people of Texas called for experience, integrity, efficiency, and fairness on the Texas Supreme Court. And I am honored to answer that call," Wainwright said on his re-election Web site.

"We were victorious because we campaigned on a record of accomplishment, a positive vision, and passionate supporters who helped us share our message across the great state of Texas."

The Place 8 seat on the Texas Supreme Court will remain occupied by Phil Johnson, who received more than 4 million votes, or 52.29 percent. Linda Yanez received 3.4 million votes, or 44.66 percent.

"I am happy with the confidence Texans have shown in me, and my record," Johnson said from a victory party in Austin. "I am very honored to serve another term."


Justice Jefferson was the first African American Justice and Chief Justice on the Supreme Court of Texas. He was appointed to the Court in 2001, making him Governor Perry's first appointment to a statewide judicial office.

Justice Dale Wainwright was elected to the Supreme Court of Texas on Nov. 5, 2002, after serving as presiding judge of the 334th Civil District Court in Harris County.

He earned his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School, studied at the London School of Economics and earned his undergraduate degree from Howard University, summa cum laude, and serves on the Visiting Committees of the University of Chicago Law School and South Texas College of Law.

Justice Johnson was appointed to the Court on March 15, 2005, by Governor Rick Perry. He was serving as Chief Justice of the Seventh Court of Appeals in Amarillo at the time of his appointment.

In November, 2006 he was elected to fill the remaining two years of the Supreme Court term to which he was appointed. This will be his first full six year term.

In his campaign, Johnson said he will "strictly interpret and apply the law as written, regardless of personal views or the parties involved."

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