Martin: Justice suffers while Cruz delays judicial nominations


The understanding that justice should be swift and everyone deserves their day in court is a fundamental American value.

But when that day in court takes over three years to complete, justice is no longer swift, and the delays can become a serious problem. After all, justice delayed is justice denied.

In Texas, those delays have become far more common since Sen. Ted Cruz took office. And with nine vacancies in Texas’ federal courts — and no nominees recommended from Sens. Cruz or Cornyn to fill any of those empty judge chairs — the delays are only going to get worse.

It creates a real challenge for Cruz. How will his dreadful history with judicial nominations impact his run for president?

Our courts matter. The most critical issues of the day — racial discrimination, equal pay, immigration, abortion, voting rights, same-sex marriage and death benefits, etc. — often end up in court. And while some don’t make the headlines and few ever reach the Supreme Court, each one of those cases matters a lot to someone.

Here are the facts: Texas has more empty seats in our federal courts than any state in the country. Added together, the nine federal bench seats have been vacant for more than 14 years.

Without enough judges to hear cases, the delays have stacked up. And it’s only gotten worse under Cruz.

Since Cruz took office in January 2013, the number of civil cases in Texas’ federal courts lasting three years or longer has more than doubled. During that same time, the number of overall cases left pending has gone up by 3,395 — an approximate 10 percent increase in inefficiency.

The reason is simple: There aren’t enough judges to do all the work.

As U.S. District Judge Ron Clark, the chief judge for Texas’ Eastern District Court, recently told Texas Lawyer: “For the last several years, we’ve had a couple of judgeships vacant. Our caseload went way, way up.”

Cruz has another inglorious fact to face: Since he took office, there’s been no women recommended to our federal courts. On the other hand, 12 of the 16 female judges currently seated in Texas’ federal courts were appointed while Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison was in office — and the remaining four were there before she was senator in 1993.

Despite nine current vacancies in Texas’ federal courts, Cruz has put forward no nominees — female or male — in 2015. Now that he’s spending more and more time on the campaign trail, it’s fair to question whether or not he ever intends to fix the problem.

As Cruz travels the country asking people to give him the power to nominate judges, those of us who are his constituents here at home should ask him why he’s done nothing to fix the judicial crisis in his own backyard.

After all, it’s only fair that Cruz does the job he already has before he asks us for a new one.

Martin is deputy director of Progress Texas.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Commentary: Why Travis County needs nonprofit start-ups
Commentary: Why Travis County needs nonprofit start-ups

Austin is an entrepreneurial city filled with caring people who like to improve things. We see a wrong; we want to right it. Many respond by wanting to start a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Lately there has been a surge of thought from local business and tech leaders who urge people to “stop starting nonprofits.” The state comptroller lists more than...
Heman: How we can end drunken driving
Heman: How we can end drunken driving

Senseless deaths. Again. Innocent victims. Again. Survivors’ lives forever changed. Again. News coverage and tears, thoughts and prayers, head scratching and soul searching. Again. And then we move on without doing anything by way of prevention though there are potential solutions worth serious consideration. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again...
The evolving names of Austin’s big central lakes
The evolving names of Austin’s big central lakes

Reader Daulton Venglar challenges our Austin Answered project: “Settle it once and for all: Lady Bird Lake vs. Town Lake vs. Lake Austin.” Venglar: “I guess I just wanted a definitive answer.” To start, two distinct lakes come into question. Both are pass-through reservoirs on the Colorado River, part of a series of lakes that...
Austin-based Dana Barney’s thriller sequel is tricky, cerebral
Austin-based Dana Barney’s thriller sequel is tricky, cerebral

In Dana Barney’s futuristic thriller “Half Life,” a sequel to “Flatline” (2015), a conspiracy debunker uncovers evidence of an elite plot against the world. In Austin, Peter Richards used to be an investigative journalist but became the victim of a conspiracy so stressful it gave him a heart attack. A mechanical heart...
Letters to the editor: Nov. 26, 2017

Re: Nov. 20 article, “Campaign cash, outreach to parents fueled big Austin school bond win.” I voted for the school bond. But make no mistake — that doesn’t mean I was part of some “Trump effect” reacting to the opponents. I am beginning to feel like property owners are an oppressed minority, getting stomped on so...
More Stories