I recently read an article on NationalReview.com that reminded me how important judges and the courts have become in our society. The article was about about one of my friends from the Texas Supreme Court, Justice Don Willett, who was confirmed as a federal judge to the Federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Unfortunately, not every judicial story has a happy ending. The reality is that we have become such a litigious society and those on the political left have used the courts to accomplish a political agenda they could not accomplish through legislative process. Too many judges are willing to make the law say what they want in order to accomplish an agenda rather than simply apply the law as written.

THSC decided to do something about this. THSC now vets judicial candidates at the local level as well as at the appellate and state levels because Texas families are often attacked by non-parents in family law cases, tearing families apart. Sometimes the issues are directly related to homeschooling.

How is THSC Vetting Judicial Candidates?

To help with this vetting and educational process, THSC developed a questionnaire for judicial candidates. To ensure the completeness of the questionnaire, THSC gathered input from appellate judges and other Texas organizations such as Texas Right to Life and Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.

Unfortunately, some judicial candidates decline to complete these questionnaires, claiming that doing so would violate the Texas Judicial Code of Conduct by:

  • “…mak[ing] pledges or promises of conduct in office regarding pending or impending cases…” and
  • violating the following rule: “a judge shall abstain from public comment about a pending or impending proceeding which may come before the judge’s court in a manner which suggests to a reasonable person the judge’s probable decision on any particular case. This prohibition applies to any candidate for judicial office, with respect to judicial proceedings pending or impending in the court on which the candidate would serve if elected.”

However, judicial candidates from virtually all levels in Texas have responded to these questionnaires. The U.S. Supreme Court even ruled in Minnesota v. White that judicial candidate may do so. When candidates decline to complete these questionnaires, we take this as a sign that they are unwilling to clearly state their political and/or judicial philosophy. That is concerning to us. Therefore, THSC will not interview or endorse such candidates.

What Action Should You Take?

It is entirely reasonable for candidates for judgeships to be open and honest about their philosophy. This provides the voting public with a reasonable basis to determine whether or not they are worthy of support at the ballot box.

When talking to a candidate for judgeship, you should ask them if they have completed a questionnaire from THSC and/or other groups. If they have not, urge them to do so. If they still refuse, then decline to support them.

This is how we can look out for each other to ensure that our family and homeschool interests are protected in the courts. Together, this is how we we continue Keeping Texas Families Free.

Texas State Historical Association