Unlike, say, Chris Christie, whose record of judicial appointments in New Jersey was just awful, Perry has a point about Perry-type judges in Texas.
Erick Erickson asked him, “If elected president, what would you do to protect churches and Christian businesses.”
Perry declined to answer the question directly. Existing law is not going to protect Christian businesses without some kind of legislative intervention. Instead, Perry promised to appoint good judges (starts at 45:11):
Religious freedom — the right to believe — is what this country was based upon. You think about where our Founding Fathers came from — from persecution somewhere to come here to get away from exactly that. Your right to believe, whatever that belief may be, must be protected. We’ve got to get back to this constitutional type of government in this country.
And here is the really important thing that I want you to think about: the next president of the United States, whoever that may be, may appoint upwards of three, maybe even four – but there’s a really good chance – three Supreme Court justices. And let me tell you, we haven’t done a very good job of it in the past, if you want to know the truth of the matter. You look at — in the last 30 years, there’s been about 12 or so Supreme Court justices, Republicans have named eight of them, Democrats have named four. Democrats never stray from what they want to get done. They legislate from the bench. And there’s been about four of ours that haven’t been too hot about it either.
Show me, don’t tell me. I appointed six members to the Texas Supreme Court over that 14 year period of time. Six. George Will wrote a column within the last two weeks — I hope you’ll pick it up and read it, because it talks about the difference between John Roberts and a Supreme Court justice in Texas by the name of Don Willett. And at the end of that column it basically says that the next president of the United States, the next Republican president of the United States, couldn’t do any better than putting Don Willett on the United States Supreme Court. And I just want to remind you I appointed Don Willett to the Texas Supreme Court. I don’t do squishy on judges.
Perry is one of those avoiding promising any direct action, like endorsing the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which is extremely disappointing.
But if you are going to be content with a promise to appoint good judges, at least consider the candidates’ record on judicial appointments and not their rhetoric.
Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at American Principles in Action.