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Texas Judge on Trump's List of Potential Supreme Court Candidates

Marjorie Kamys Cotera
Texas Tribune
Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett, left, at The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 20, 2014.

About a year ago, Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett posted a haiku on Twitter:

Who would the Donald/Name to #SCOTUS? The mind/reels. *weeps — can't finish tweet*

Maybe those were tears of joy. 

On Wednesday, presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee Donald Trump included Willett on a list of 11 people who Trump would consider appointing to the U.S. Supreme Court if he were elected president.

In a press 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 then 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.  

But he has occasionally made an exception to comment about Trump. His haiku was written when many people considered Trump's campaign more of a publicity stunt than a serious movement. At other times, he has written that he "Can't wait till Trump rips off his face Mission Impossible-style & reveals a laughing Ruth Bader Ginsburg." He has also tweeted jokes about Trump's infamous Trump University and posted a fake quote about Trump wanting to rebuild the "Death Star," saying that the "rebels will pay for it."

Trump said in March he would release the list to ease concerns that he wasn’t conservative enough to run for president. 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," according to the Associated Press.

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.  

Julian Aguilar covered the 81st legislative session for the Rio Grande Guardian. Previously, he reported from the border for the Laredo Morning Times. A native of El Paso, he has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Texas and a master's degree in journalism from the Frank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism at the University of North Texas.
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