Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Don Willett Appointment

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005  •  Speech

Good morning and thank you for joining us. 

Today I am proud to announce that I am appointing Don Willett to the Texas Supreme Court. 

Don Willett is an experienced attorney with a diverse legal background and a proven commitment to public service. 

He has served as a high-ranking advisor to President Bush...
...as Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the United States...
...and as the chief legal counsel to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Don also has experience as a labor and employment attorney in the private sector, including doing pro bono work to help wage a successful legal battle to make state adoption practices truly colorblind...
...ensuring that Texas children can be placed in loving homes as soon as possible...
...without regard to racial differences.

At the U.S. Department of Justice, Don led the administration’s effort to expedite citizenship for the brave immigrant servicemen and women fighting for freedom overseas. 

He played a principal role in developing the landmark PROTECT Act of 2003...
...which is helping to keep American children safe from violent predators. 

And as General Abbott’s top legal advisor, Don Willett has overseen the agency’s issuance of 25,000 open records rulings and more than 350 official opinions.

By virtue of the fact that Don Willett has valuable experience enforcing our laws in the public sector...
...and a reputation for taking a thoughtful, scholarly approach to the law...
...he will make an outstanding justice on the Texas Supreme Court.

He is also a man of character...
...character molded in the small town of Talty, Texas in Kaufman County...
...where he grew up the son of a widowed mother who worked extra shifts as a waitress to provide for her family...
...and to give her son the opportunity to become the first in his family to attend college.

From these humble beginnings he has risen quickly in life...
...graduating from Baylor University and then Duke Law...
...serving in the Governor’s office, the White House, the Department of Justice and as the top legal advisor to General Abbott...
...and, as of today, taking his place on the highest civil court in the state of Texas.

It’s enough to make his hardworking mom, Doris, pretty proud I’m sure. 

Don has earned the trust of the president of the United States…and the Attorney General and Governor of Texas for good reason.   
He is a hard worker...
...a bright scholar...
...and a strict constructionist who understands the role of a judge in our democracy is to interpret and apply the law...
...not create it from the bench. 

I view his variety of legal experiences to be an asset to this court...
...which already has numerous justices that have been elevated from a prior post on the bench. 

He joins a long and distinguished list of previous justices whose appointment to a high court was the first time they put on the robe...
...including Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson of the Texas Supreme Court, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist of the United States Supreme Court.   

His appointment will allow the court to benefit not only from his unique combination of skills and expertise...
...but also a more diverse array of professional backgrounds.

I congratulate him, his wife Tiffany, their son Jacob, his mother Doris, and their entire family on this memorable occasion. 

At this time, it is my great honor to introduce the newest member of the Texas Supreme Court... Don Willett.

(Willett will intro Abbott, after Abbott speaks...)

We would be happy to take a few questions...

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