Judge William Wayne Justice has died at age 89 after a long illness. Texas can now exhale, and those who are crafting a New Texas should take the life of Judge Justice as an example of the type of justice Texas doesn’t want and won’t tolerate.
Appointed to the Federal District bench by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968, he became known as a liberal judge whose decisions radically changed law and society in Texas.
Justice did not believe that the US Constitution and the bill of Rights were static and unchangeable. he advocated the living constitution viewpoint that the Constitution should evolve as the society evolved.
Consequently, he legislated from the Federal bench.
His legal decisions covered issues in prison reform, immigration, public education, public housing and voting law.
In one of his more infamous rulings in 1977, Doe v. Plyler, he ordered that undocumented immigrant children had the same rights as US citizens and must receive public education. he also ordered bilingual public education.
Once his liberalism was chronicled and well-known, reformers and social do-gooders flocked to his courtroom to file class action cases. some of the class action cases, many of which were the largest lawsuits in America, dragged on for decades. And his court decisions changed Texas forever and influenced legal precedent nationwide.
Frank Kemerer, Justice’s biographer and university professor, said that Justice was perhaps the single most influential agent for change in 20th-century Texas history.
Likely, Kemerer is right. but Justice’s brand of change did violence to the US Constitution. he should have been impeached and removed from office. but in a tyrannical Federal government that snickers at state’s rights and outright ignores the US Constitution, Justice was a hero.
In the new nation of Texas, Federal judges must be chosen that are committed to strict interpretation of the new Texas Constitution. The judges should be required to sign an affidavit stating their commitment to strict interpretation, and judges should stand for re-election or re-appointment every few years.no lifetime appointments to the Bench. in instances of judicial activism, judges should be subject to removal from the bench at any time.
The New Texas deserves no less than judges who will protect liberty.