The Dallas Morning News reports that Nathan Hecht, the longest serving Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, has been nominated by Governor Rick Perry to become the 27th Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court.
The vacancy arose exactly one week ago, when incumbent Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson announced his intent to leave the bench by the end of the month. Jefferson did this so that he may enter private practice and earn a higher income. Although Justices on the Texas Supreme Court are elected to six year terms, if a vacancy arises mid-term, the Governor appoints a replacement–without the advise and consent of the State Legislature.
Hecht will serve until the next regularly scheduled election for Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice, November 2014. Courtesy of Ross Ramsey at the Texas Tribune, we already know that Hecht intends to go for the longhaul and seek another term at that point.
Only the third-ever Republican Chief Justice, Hecht will be sure to be the most conservative to ever hold the job. Hecht is currently the longest serving current Justice on the court, holding his position as an Associate Justice since 1989. Before Hecht’s election to the court, the Court was controlled by a 9-0 Democratic composition, a sharp contradiction from the 9-0 Republicans composition that has cursed our State since 1999. Hecht is seen as a hyperconservative, in stark contrast to his predecessor, and as such gained the praise of Greg Abbott on the campaign trail.
Perhaps most troubling about Hecht, however, is his ethical problems. Barely 10 days ago, the San Antonio Express-News published a lengthy article detailing some of Hecht’s issues in recent years pertaining to his abuse of office and campaign finance violations.
First, back in 2005, when President Bush nominate Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, Hecht talked her up a lot. It seems the two are former lovers. No seriously. In fact, even though they went their separate ways eventually, neither has ever married, leaving an open question about how close the duo continue to be.
Anyways, the many interviews Hecht gave defending and talking up Miers’ nomination was seen as a big abuse of power for many. The over 120 interviews Hecht gave, raised some red flags.
In 2006, Hecht was admonished for this abuse of office by the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct (the admonition was later overturned). Further, the commissioned fined the Justice $29,000 in 2009 after they deemed he improperly fought the admonition with campaign funds.
All of these issues will be sure to come up in the next few days as more and more people are reintroduced to Hecht. For Perry’s part, the Governor now must appoint a second individual to fill Hecht’s old seat on the Supreme Court.