In a nasty race with allegations of racism, former District Judge John Devine beat incumbent Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina yesterday, by a 53 to 47 margin. With no Democratic candidate on the ballot this November, Devine is a shoe-in for the state’s high court.
Two Houston lawyers made news in recent days with allegations that Devine had made racist comments to them about the incumbent Medina’s background. The Dallas Morning News reported this week:
The race became steeped in controversy after two Houston lawyers contended Devine told them he was targeting Medina because “I can beat a guy with a Mexican last name.” Devine denies he said that or ran against Medina for that reason, noting that his wife is from Colombia. Instead, he contends, attorneys Scott Link and Frank Harmon were trying to push him out of the race.
Harmon and Link say that’s false. “He made horrible statements, and I understand he wants to run away from them,” said Link, a former friend of Devine’s. “We were like witnesses to a horrible accident.”
Devine is best known for having refused to remove a painting of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom and a “Bible monument” outside his courthouse — moves that earned him the endorsements of several Christian Right and Tea Party leaders. He proudly notes that he was named “Texas Size Hero” by Focus on the Family magazine.
While Medina, an appointee by Gov. Rick Perry (R), was also a strong conservative, Devine ran to his right. His overt political positions — listed on his campaign website as “The Devine 9” — on abortion, guns, and “states right’s” are a reminder of the danger of putting the judiciary up to a popular vote. Rather than running on judicial temperament or independence, Devine campaigned largely on the fact that he will not be a neutral arbiter when what he identifies as the “top nine issues currently affecting Texans” come before the Texas Supreme Court.