DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A Texan remains on President Donald Trump’s list of 25 potential picks to succeed retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Judge Don Willett served as a Texas Supreme Court Justice for 12 years, and since this past January, has served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit based in New Orleans.
The President nominated him in October of last year, and the Senate confirmed him in December.
Cathie Adams, former Chair of the Texas Republican Party and a grassroots conservative praised Willett. “To have Don Willett on that list I think is very exciting. I know Don Willett, I’ve known him for a number of years and his character is supreme.”
Dallas attorney Britta Stanton says Willett’s opinions are written in the same style he used while on the Texas Supreme Court. “They’re very understandable, they’re very relatable. Anyone, any person, lawyer or not, can pick them up and read them and understand what Judge Willett is really saying.”
Willett was once active on twitter and the Texas House designated him as the “Tweeter Laureate of Texas.”
But during his confirmation hearing for his new job, he was grilled about two of his past tweets:
One in February, 2014 about a California transgender law allowing a teenage boy to play on a girl’s softball team in which Willett wrote, “Go away, A-Rod.”
And another tweet in April, 2015 about recognizing a constitutional right to marry bacon.
At the time, Willett said he wanted to have a little levity at a time the country was so polarized about same sex marriage.
Rafael McDonnell of the Dallas Resource Center, which helps the LGBTQ community, wasn’t amused. “You go before a judge and you believe judges are going to be unbiased whether they came from one political party or another and your personal feelings you leave when you put the robe on for the day. That’s the thing about social media you can’t really tell. It’s text on a page. It could be a joke, it could be something more serious.”
Adams disagrees with the criticism.”I think Don Willett is a very fair minded man. If he had made a very pointed statement, that might be something, but I mean, this was in jest and I think we should see it that way and regard it that way and it should not be used against him.”
Willett hasn’t tweeted since he started on the federal bench in early January.
“You get a lot more scrutiny as a judge and he’s not up for election anymore, so he doesn’t have to have quite as much time with every man and have his name out there in front of everyone,” said Stanton.