I have written a couple of times about the recent ethics charges against certain justices on our Texas Supreme Court, and many times about the moral challenges this Court seems unable to overcome. Now Paul Burka has today written an excellent post on his blog about the same subjects. I encourage everyone to read his post in full. I’ll quote only the concluding paragraphs:
The Texas Supreme Court has become a public spectacle. It’s bad enough that a majority of the Court performs as a wholly owned subsidiary of Texans for Lawsuit Reform. Now it’s apparent that a third of the judges — Nathan Hecht, Paul Green, and David Medina — have no compunction about flouting ethics rules by using campaign funds as a piggybank for their personal travel to and from work. Texas Watch has filed complaints against all three judges with the Texas Ethics Commission.
The larger concern is that the judges did not make sufficient effort to investigate the legality of their conversion of sizable sums of money from their contributors. They used campaign funds to subsidize their lifestyle. Judges should be held to the highest standard of ethics. Let me rephrase that. Judges should hold themselves to the highest standard of ethics. But the judges on the Texas Supreme Court do not have to worry about how they are perceived, because there is no accountability. The judges are bulletproof. All of them are Republicans. While Democrats have had some electoral success in courthouse and legislative races, they haven’t won a statewide election since 1994. Republican judges have little to fear at election time because they are protected by TLR and the big firms with the big clients who always win — BP being the most recent example. The Court is consistently criticized for being result-oriented at legal conferences, but there is no incentive for judges to change their behavior, either in their decisions or in their ethics, and there won’t be until somebody loses a race.
Please read Mr. Burka’s post, and while you’re there, subscribe. It’s always worthwhile and enlightening reading.