President Donald Trump announced the nomination of the Honorable Justice Don Willett to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Justice Willett currently serves on the Supreme Court of Texas, first appointed there by Governor Rick Perry in 2005. Justice Willett has successfully won re-election with the help and endorsement of Texas Right to Life Political Action Committee. The nomination of Justice Willett to the Fifth Circuit Court marks another Trump campaign promise fulfilled—that of appointing committed, constructionist jurists to the federal judiciary.
The Fifth Circuit is key to the Pro-Life movement because challenges to Pro-Life laws in Texas eventually land in that court of appeal. In recent years, the Fifth Circuit has ruled favorably that a sonogram requirement before abortion is an important and appropriate step in informed consent, that the state can restrict public family planning dollars, that the state can establish health and safety standards for abortion clinics, and that a state agency cannot limit the First Amendment rights of private individuals who engage in political discourse.
Widely known as “Tweeter Laureate of Texas,” Justice Willett has gained a following on Twitter with legal, conservative, and political audiences.
After serving time in the George W. Bush administration, including in one post where he coordinated the selection and confirmation process for federal judges, Justice Willett joined the Office of the Texas Attorney General under then-Attorney General Greg Abbott as the Deputy Texas Attorney General for Legal Counsel. His work there drew the attention of Governor Rick Perry, leading to his appointment to the Texas Supreme Court in 2005.
“We are very pleased that President Trump has recognized in Justice Willett what we Texans have seen for years—a reverence for the letter of the law with no imagined penumbras or shadows in the Constitution. Justice Willett will serve President Trump and our nation as an intelligent, thoughtful, and qualified jurist,” noted Texas Right to Life Director, Elizabeth Graham.
The next step for Justice Willett’s nomination is confirmation by the United States Senate.