AUSTIN (Nexstar) — It’s the highest court in Texas, but there’s been little talk about the justices’ races for the Texas Supreme Court this November.
The state Supreme Court hears cases ranging from consumers against businesses, civil rights and government law to controversial topics like abortion and immigration.
In fact, a case concerning abortion is going before the Texas Supreme Court for oral arguments: Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity vs. Right to Life East Texas. This order was released Friday.
Another recent case that’s already gone before the court was the Grassroots Leadership Inc. vs. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
“We [my law firm] represented the mothers of several children who were detained in these immigration facilities. It is very harmful for the children,” Amy Warr, an attorney for Grassroots, said.
Grassroots challenged the state for trying to implement a rule that detention centers for families could be licensed childcare facilities. A lower court ruled the group didn’t have the authority to be in court, representing parents in the immigration system. However, Texas Supreme Court justices ruled otherwise.
“Why is it so important, who is elected for this court?” Reporter Jala Washington asked Warr.
“They’re deciding very important issues,” Warr responded. “I think that any parent would think it’s very important that they have the right to go into court if they believe their child is being harmed.”
There are nine justices on the state Supreme Court. This November, Texas voters will vote on three open justice spots.
Scott McCown, a UT School of Law professor, said your average voter can do some digging on justices’ policies on nonpartisan sites like the League of Women Voters. It has an October voter guide.
Most recently, the Supreme Court had a hand in rulings during the pandemic that affected people across Texas, according to McCown.
“There was a lot of disagreement about what restrictions should be imposed,” McCown said. “Should we wear masks? Should we not wear masks? Does the governor make the decision? Does the county leadership make the decision? Texas Supreme Court has to sort all that out.”
Warr said she hopes voters understand the importance of a Texas Supreme Court justice’s role.
“It’s very important that we have highly qualified people in that position,” she said.
The Texas Supreme Court justices are elected in staggered terms every two years.
Supreme Court justices can leave in the middle of a term. If that happens, the governor would appoint who they want in that position.