Our local judiciary plays a vital role as a check and balance on local governance. And, boy do we need it with Annise Parker and, now, Sylvester Turner at the helm.
Many citizens never see our courts, especially our appellate courts, in action. While some folks may serve as jurors in our lower courts, our appellate courts rarely get the attention they deserve. The Houston area is home to two of the fourteen intermediate appellate courts – the First and Fourteenth Courts of Appeals.
These courts are filled with some of our best and brightest legal minds, including Justices Brett Busby and Michael Massengale. These two appellate justices stand out in my mind because I have worked the polls for both men as they are true conservatives who know and understand the Constitution. One interesting fact about Justice Busby: he and his wife, Erin, met while clerking at the United States Supreme Court. Justice Massengale’s bride, Dr. Lindsay Harris, is one of the best ophthalmologists in Texas. Justice Massengale is also the former president of the Houston Chapter of the Federalist Society (the organization that helped President Trump develop a list of SCOTUS candidates).
In Texas, our state court judges are elected. Importantly, the 2018 election will be the last time that judges are included in straight ticket voting. Bottom line, it is really important that we reelect a conservative judiciary who honestly believe in the rule of law. The First and Fourteenth Courts are the first stop in the appellate process when citizens seek redress from our local government.
To highlight the importance of these courts, it is instructive to look at a recent opinion by Justice Busby. The case, styled Sylvester Turner, etc. v. Carroll G. Robinson, et al., dealt with standing and governmental immunity in the context of two propositions for amendments to the city charter in the November 2004 election. Yes, 2004.
Justice Busby authored a concurring opinion that carefully outlined the concepts of standing and governmental immunity, which are the city’s go to arguments in citizen challenges to government conduct. For years, the city had used standing to prevent conservative activists from challenging local government action.
While the majority opinion is sufficient, Justice Busby took the time to author a concurring opinion that will serve as the foundation of these fundamental arguments for years to come. In his opening statement, Justice Busby emphasizes the importance of his legal reasoning, especially at this point in the city where conservatives have one option to fight Sly’s bad public policy – to file a lawsuit.
“When a city and its elected officials refuse to comply with a citizen-initiated amendment to the city charter that limits the city’s ability to raise taxes and other revenue, can its taxpaying citizens ask the courts to order their representatives to obey the law? We hold today that the courts of Texas are open to their suit.”
The Texas Supreme Court denied the city’s petition to review this opinion, so Justice Busby’s reasoning stands. Now, conservatives in the city have a remedy to combat out-of-control liberal government.
Think about some of the recent conservative fights against the city. Remember when the Kubosh family spent their own money gathering signatures to pass the red light camera charter amendment? Another fighter is Bruce Hotze, a plaintiff in the 2004 case. In Houston, litigation against the government is expensive and we are very fortunate to have fighters in our midst.
I really encourage you to read Justice Busby’s concurrence, which offers a lesson in the heritage of our constitutional guarantee of procedural due course of law.
“In Magna Carta, King John gave sanction to the rule of law by agreeing not to deny free men ‘right or justice’ or deprive them of liberty or property except ‘by the law of the land.'”
“When the Mayor of Houston an the members of the City Council look down from their dais in the Council Chamber, they see the following words written above the doors: ‘The people are the city.’ The people settled the political issue of how much revenue their government may collect from them: they initiated the Proposition 2 amendment to the City Charter and approved it at the ballot box. Whether the City and the Mayor must comply with this limit on their authority is a legal issue, and doctrines of standing and governmental immunity – as shaped by our rule-of-law values – do not bar the people from asking a court to resolve that issue. The City is not above the law.”
Vote for our Republican judges.