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The Brief: Texas Justice Lands on Trump's Shortlist for Supreme Court

Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett was one of 11 justices named by the GOP's presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump as potential nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court – if Trump is elected.

Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett onstage at the Republican Convention in Dallas on June 15, 2010.

*Correction appended

The Big Conversation

Since he landed on a list of Donald Trump's potential nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court, Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett has only posted a pair of tweets referencing the news that broke early Wednesday afternoon – a rare feat for the Twitter-savvy justice.

"And to think, when today began, the most 🔥🔥🔥 thing on my calendar was @La_Barbecue w/ @iowahawkblog & @jesspryles," Willett tweeted late Wednesday, alluding to the nod from Trump. 

Willett was one of 11 justices named by the presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee as contenders for a seat on the nation's highest court if Trump is elected president. The Tribune's Matthew Watkins and Julián Aguilar wrote that Trump "highlighted 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." Trump also pointed to Willett's 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."

In a statement issued Wednesday night, Willett gave no indication of his interest in serving on the Supreme Court and instead focused on other judges named on the list – six federal judges and four other state Supreme Court justices.

"I respect all, and personally know several, of the judges listed," Willett said in the statement. "Being named alongside them for any purpose is a rich honor. They are exceptional jurists, and importantly, over half have served or are serving in the state judiciary, where most American justice is dispensed."

Watkins and Aguilar wrote that, "in Texas, Willett is perhaps best known as the justice who tweets...He occasionally chimes in on politics, but more in an observational way than purely political."

Bobby Blanchard of The Dallas Morning News highlighted nine tweets from the justice where he shared "some unflattering things about Trump."

The list included a post from Willett where he joked that Trump could be U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in disguise and a satirical quote from Trump comparing his plans to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall to a plot line in the "Star Wars" film saga.

"We'll rebuild the Death Star. It'll be amazing, believe me. And the rebels will pay for it," Willett tweeted, attributing the remarks to "Darth Trump." 

Trib Must Reads

Texas Suburbs Among Fastest-Growing U.S. Cities, by Alexa Ura and Annie Daniel – Big Texas cities continue to add the greatest number of people, but the action is in the suburbs when it comes to rates of growth. Led by Georgetown, Texas has four of the nation's 10 fastest-growing cities.

Push To Provide Lawyers for Immigrant Children Loses Steam, by Julián Aguilar – An ambitious effort by the state's legal community to provide legal representation to immigrant children hasn't had quite the impact some had hoped.

Hunt, Investors Back Out of Oncor Purchase Deal, by Johnathan Silver – A Dallas oil family is going back to the drawing board after determining it can't go forward with a current plan to purchase utility Oncor, an attorney for the group told the Texas Public Utility Commission in a Wednesday filing that requested a March order be set aside.

Report: Texas Must Increase Water Conservation Efforts, by Madlin Mekelburg – Most of the water utilities in Texas need to "substantially increase" efforts to conserve water, according to a recent review of more than 300 city utilities by the Texas Living Waters Project.

San Antonio Utility Approves Vista Ridge Takeover, by Kiah Collier – The San Antonio Water System board on Wednesday approved a takeover of the controversial Vista Ridge project — a move set in motion by the financial troubles of a firm the city had enlisted to build the 142-mile pipeline.

Abbott: "No Basis To Have Concern" About Miller, Paxton, by Patrick Svitek – Gov. Greg Abbott is steering clear of the legal problems swirling around two of his fellow Republican statewide officeholders.

State Rep. Reynolds' Law License Suspended as He Appeals Convictions, by Alana Rocha – Convicted of five misdemeanor counts of illegally soliciting clients to his personal injury law practice, state Rep. Ron Reynolds is now without a license to practice law.

Federal Border Officials in El Paso Accused of Coercion, Abuse, by Julián Aguilar – Federal officials stationed on the Texas-Mexico border called legal border crossers “whores” and “criminals” and subjected others to unwarranted searches and coercion, according to a complaint a civil liberties group submitted to the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general Tuesday.

The Day Ahead

•    Tribune CEO Evan Smith will moderate a discussion about access to coverage versus access to care. Put simply: Does Texas have enough medical professionals to accommodate our surging population? The event kicks off at 8:30 a.m. and will take place at the Medical World Americas Conference in Houston. It will be livestreamed on the Tribune's website for those unable to attend in person.

•     The House budget writing subcommittee with jurisdiction over spending on health and human services meets at 10 a.m. in the Capitol extension. On the agenda is invited testimony on long term care programs in the state.

•    The House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee meets at 10:30 a.m. in the Capitol extension to address interim charges on human trafficking, jury service in Texas and the state's "lemon law."

•    The House Public Health Committee meets at 1 p.m. in the Capitol extension to examine barriers to pregnant women from receiving prenatal care and to improve birth outcomes.

•    The Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee meets at 9 a.m. in the Capitol extension to examine the issue of expansion of municipalities' extraterritorial jurisdiction and annexation processes.


(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)

A Peek at a Forgotten Age of Prison Radio in TexasThe Marshall Project

Police records detail several more violence allegations against Baylor football players, ESPN

Immigration officials accused of violating judge’s orderSan Antonio Express-News

Federal funding resumes for troubled technology project T2, Austin American-Statesman

Report: Bastrop officials underestimated Hidden Pines fire by 400%Austin American-Statesman

Texas CPS staffing crisis has leaders pushing to hire caseworkers without college degrees, The Dallas Morning News

Alabama-Coushatta reopens East Texas bingo hallBeaumont Enterprise

$20 million left to spend — what will the super PACs who backed Ted Cruz do with it?Center for Public Integrity

Special election runoff set for state House District 120, The Associated Press

The Rice's downtown building turns 103 years oldBeaumont Enterprise

Autopsy pending after woman in Texas jail dies, The Associated Press

Austin police to help Cleveland with security at GOP conventionAustin American-Statesman

Quote to Note

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

— A tweet from Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett from a year ago that resurfaced when he landed on a list of potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees from Donald Trump

Today in TribTalk

National nursing shortage exacerbated by lack of teachers, by Sharon A. Wilkerson and Mary Hamilton – A perfect storm is brewing in the nursing profession, causing many to wonder whether it will leave a decimated health care industry in its wake. In order to recruit enough nurse educators to meet the projected demand for registered nurses in the future, we need to make some changes. 

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation with state Sens. Kel Seliger and Kirk Watson on higher education funding in Texas, on May 26 at The Austin Club.

•    A Conversation with Ryan Sitton, Texas Railroad Commissioner, on June 3 at The Austin Club

•    The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 23-25 at the University of Texas at Austin

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Justice Don Willett made just one tweet in response to the news that he had been included in a list of potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees drafted by presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. Willett wrote two tweets.

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