Texas Supreme Court Advisory
June 8, 2009
Contact: Osler McCarthy, staff attorney for public information 512.463.1441
Texas Supreme Court Advisory - Statement of Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson on the U.S. Supreme Court's Decision in Caperton v. Massey
The Court's decision in Caperton confirms that Texas was forward thinking in adopting voluntary contribution and spending caps for judges and judicial candidates more than a decade ago. In Texas judges cannot raise more than $5,000 from any one lawyer or $30,000 from all lawyers in any one law firm, but the limits currently do not govern special interest groups, whose spending can far exceed those limitations. The Supreme Court's decision makes clear that a Texas judge who does not subscribe to these voluntary limits may be required to recuse based on the Caperton standards.
The Caperton decision challenges us to do more to remove the perception that judicial campaign contributions influence decisions in Texas courts. Caperton identified a core problem that exists in Texas even with expenditure limits. Judges and judicial candidates now must raise hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars to support their election efforts. Rather than worry about a constitutional challenge to how we finance campaigns for judges in Texas, I hope Caperton will encourage all of us to continue the debate about how best to maintain the integrity and independence of the judiciary and the rule of law in Texas. I see Caperton not as the end of a discussion about these issues, but instead as the beginning.