Texas Supreme Court Justice Paul Green is retiring on August 31, 2020. Green joined the court in 2005 after winning election to the position on November 2, 2004. Before that, he served for 10 years as a justice on the Texas Fourth District Court of Appeals, taking the bench after being elected in 1994. He also worked in private practice. Green received his B.A. in business administration from the University of Texas at Austin in 1974. In 1977, he earned his J.D. from Saint Mary’s University School of Law.
In the event of a midterm vacancy, Texas Supreme Court justices are chosen by gubernatorial appointment with confirmation by the state Senate. The appointee serves until the next general election, in which he or she must compete in a partisan election to serve for the remainder of the unexpired term. Green’s replacement will be Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) fourth nominee to the nine-member supreme court.
Texas is one of two states (along with Oklahoma) with two courts of last resort. Founded in 1836, the Texas Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort for civil matters. Founded in 1876, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is the state’s court of last resort for criminal matters. Both courts have nine judgeships each.
In addition to Justice Green, the Texas Supreme Court currently includes the following justices:
• Nathan Hecht – Elected in 1988
• Eva Guzman – Appointed by Gov. Rick Perry (R) in 2009
• Debra Lehrmann – Appointed by Gov. Perry in 2010
• Jeffrey S. Boyd – Appointed by Gov. Perry in 2012
• John Devine – Elected in 2012
• Jimmy Blacklock – Appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in 2018
• Jane Bland – Appointed by Gov. Abbott in 2019
• Brett Busby – Appointed by Gov. Abbott in 2019
In 2020, there have been 19 supreme court vacancies in 16 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. The vacancies were caused by retirements. Twelve vacancies are in states where a Democratic governor appoints the replacement. Six are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. One vacancy is in a state where the state supreme court votes to appoint the replacement.