Justice Don Willett Will Be A Strong Addition To The Fifth Circuit
‘I would like to commend President Trump for nominating Justice Willett to the Fifth Circuit. And under Chairman Grassley’s leadership, the Judiciary Committee has done an outstanding job processing this nomination and many others. By joining the Fifth Circuit, Justice Willett will use his talents to continue to serve his state and his nation. I look forward to advancing his nomination, and I urge my colleagues to join me in doing so.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding President Trump’s nominee for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett:
“Yesterday, the Senate advanced the nomination of Mr. Leonard Steven Grasz to be a judge on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Mr. Grasz has sterling credentials and strong support from the Nebraska legal community. I proudly voted to advance his nomination, and the Senate will confirm him soon.
“Next, we will vote to advance the nomination of another well-qualified individual, Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett to serve on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Justice Willett respects the rule of law and our foundational legal principles, and he will be a strong addition to the Fifth Circuit.
“His story is an inspirational one. Adopted at a young age and raised by a widowed mother in a town of 32 people, he was the first person in his family to graduate high school. As our colleague Senator Cornyn said at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing, Justice Willett’s life ‘[reflects] the best of Texas, and the best of America.’ From these humble beginnings, Justice Willett has led a remarkable career.
“After graduating from the Duke School of Law, he clerked for Judge Jerre Williams of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the panel he has now been nominated to join. He spent a short time in private practice before entering public service in then-Governor George W. Bush’s Administration as a legal and policy advisor. When President Bush entered the White House, Justice Willett joined him as the Special Assistant to the President. In that role, he helped shape the domestic legal policy of the Bush Administration, especially in the president’s efforts to increase charitable activities in neighborhoods across the nation.
“The next year, he became the Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy. There he oversaw both civil and criminal policy initiatives, including what became the PROTECT Act of 2003, which increased law enforcement’s ability to prevent and prosecute violent crimes against children. Afterward, Justice Willett returned to Texas to serve as the Deputy Attorney General for Legal Counsel. As the top legal aide to then-Attorney General Greg Abbott, he advised the office on a wide variety of legal matters.
“In 2005, he was appointed to serve as a justice on the Texas Supreme Court. Elected to a full term in 2006 and reelected in 2012, Justice Willett has served with distinction on the Texas high court for over a decade. During that time, he has ruled fairly and impartiality. Four of his former colleagues on the Texas Supreme Court wrote a letter to the Judiciary Committee supporting Justice Willett’s nomination.
“They wrote that ‘[h]is demonstrated belief is that the courts should enforce both constitutional rights and constitutional limitations and uphold the rule of law, but not enforce a personal agenda.’
“‘On occasion,’ they continued, ‘we did not agree with each other or with him on the disposition of an appeal but we respected Don’s opinions and never doubted his devotion to principle.’
“In addition, retired Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson recommended Justice Willett’s nomination, writing that he will be ‘a thoughtful, hardworking, diligent, and influential member of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.’ Justice Willett has also been recognized for his excellence by the Texas Review of Law and Politics, which named him its Distinguished Jurist of the Year in 2014.
“I would like to commend President Trump for nominating Justice Willett to the Fifth Circuit. And under Chairman Grassley’s leadership, the Judiciary Committee has done an outstanding job processing this nomination and many others. By joining the Fifth Circuit, Justice Willett will use his talents to continue to serve his state and his nation. I look forward to advancing his nomination, and I urge my colleagues to join me in doing so.”
Related Issues: Judicial Nominations, Nominations