Gov. Abbott to tap legal adviser for Texas Supreme Court


Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that he will appoint a close adviser to the Texas Supreme Court to replace Justice Don Willett, who was tapped by President Donald Trump for a federal appeals court seat.

Abbott said he will elevate Jimmy Blacklock, the general counsel in the governor’s office, immediately after the U.S. Senate approves Willett’s nomination to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — something Texas’ two Republican senators said can be expected next month, the governor said.

“He will be a conservative vote on the court who can help influence the court’s decisions through his legal skills as well as through his insightful understanding of the law,” Abbott said.

Blacklock has worked with Abbott for about a decade, also serving as deputy attorney general for legal counsel and a member of the solicitor general’s division when Abbott was attorney general. Blacklock was instrumental in the state’s legal fight over the Affordable Care Act and in support of state abortion regulations, Abbott said.

That long relationship was key to Blacklock’s appointment, Abbott said.

“I wanted to make sure that when I appoint someone to the Supreme Court, I will not be taking a risk hoping this person would turn out the right way,” he said. “I wanted to make sure that the person I appointed was going to make decisions that I know how they are going to decide. And because I have worked with Jimmy for so long, on so many matters, I know his decision-making process.”

Blacklock stood behind Abbott as he made the announcement at the Republican Party of Texas headquarters in downtown Austin, but the future appointee did not speak.

Willett’s six-year term expires at the end of 2018, and because Blacklock would be appointed while the Legislature is not in session, he would not need approval from the Texas Senate to complete Willett’s term.

Abbott said he will endorse and campaign on Blacklock’s behalf in the 2018 elections.



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