Candidate Surveys

Smith's Responses to Dallas Morning News Survey

Smith's Responses to Fort Worth Star-Telegram Survey

Smith's Responses to League of Women Voters Survey

Education: I graduated with Honors from the University of Texas School of Law in 1986. UT Law is generally recognized as not only the best law school in Texas, but the best law school in the Southwestern United States.

What training, experience, and characteristics qualify you for this position? I served as a Texas Supreme Court justice and authored numerous opinions. My conservative judicial philosophy is another important qualification. My prior litigation experience includes litigating the Hopwood v. Texas case that eliminated unconstitutional racial preferences at Texas universities.

How do you maintain impartiality, given the need to raise funds for political campaigns? I believe that state judges should continue to be elected. The core task of the judiciary is to efficiently and fairly resolve cases by applying Texas law to the facts. Direct elections make the state judiciary accountable to Texas voters, allowing citizens to remove judges who are inefficient, unfair, or who legislate from the bench. However, because of the inherent conflict of interest that arises, campaign contributions from attorneys to judges should be strictly limited.

Describe an accomplishment of which you are proud and how it would help make you a better justice on this court. I am proud of my service on the Texas Supreme Court. My judicial philosophy mirrors that of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia: textualism and rejection of the liberal "living constitution" theory. When reviewing a constitutional or statutory provision, judges should enforce the plain meaning of the text. See, e.g., my majority opinion in the landmark case of Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services v. Mega Child Care, 145 S.W.3d 170 (Tex. 2004).

Aside from the issues above, what are the two most pressing issues facing the Court in the next term, and how would you address them? First Issue: Whether the death penalty is constitutional in Texas. My view is that neither the United States Constitution nor the Texas Constitution prohibit the death penalty. Others, including some Republicans, disagree. Second Issue: Whether the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals should be merged with the Texas Supreme Court. I believe that such a merger would improve the state's jurisprudence, improve the efficiency of both courts, and make high court justices more accountable to the voters.