Texas judge on Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court candidates

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump apparently thinks Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett is a person “that everybody respects, likes and totally admires.” 

So much so that Willett has made Trump’s 11-person list of judges the real estate mogul would consider appointing to the U.S. Supreme Court if elected president. In a news release, Trump cited Willett’s experience on the state’s top civil court, noting that he was appointed by then-Gov. Rick Perry in 2005 and has been re-elected twice. The release also highlighted his prior work at the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation and as a top lawyer in the state Office of Attorney General when now-Gov. Greg Abbott was in charge.  

Trump said the 11 people on his list are “representative of the kind of constitutional principles I value.” As president, he said he would “use this list as a guide to nominate our next United States Supreme Court Justices.” 

In Texas, Willett is perhaps best known as the justice who tweets. He has posted on Twitter more than 21,000 times since joining in 2009. He often writes about his family, the law and his alma mater Baylor. He occasionally chimes in on politics, but more in an observational way than purely political.   

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However, about a year ago, when many people thought the Trump campaign was more of a publicity stunt, he wrote a haiku on Twitter about the candidate: 

“Who would the Donald  

Name to #SCOTUS? The mind  

reels. *weeps — can’t finish tweet*” 

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Trump said in March he would release the list to ease concerns that he wasn’t conservative enough to run for president, according to the Associated Press story. In addition to being a list of judges people “totally admire,” Trump said that month that his candidates would also be “great conservative judges, great intellects, the people that you want.” 

Willett was first appointed to the state’s high court in 2005 and elected to a full term in November 2006, according to his biography on the court’s website. 

Willett, approached by reporters at Gov. Greg Abbott’s book-signing event in Austin on Wednesday, seemed stunned and speechless. When asked for comment, he joked, “I’m exercising judicial restraint.” 

Abbott has previously said Willett would make a good Supreme Court justice.  

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Additional reporting by Patrick Svitek.  

Disclosure: The Texas Public Policy Foundation has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here. 

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2016/05/18/texas-judge-included-trumps-list-potential-scotus-/.