August 3, 2020
Texas is one of just a handful of states in the country with partisan elections for its judges at all levels of the court, from the state’s district trial courts, to its intermediate appeals courts, to its highest appellate courts.
In most states, the state’s Supreme Court is the highest court with final judicial authority. However, Texas is just one of two states in the nation in which there is not just one, but two highest courts with final ruling authority not subject to further review — the Texas Supreme Court, which oversees civil appeals, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which oversees criminal appeals. This means that there are two separate courts — the Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals — with the highest levels of judicial power, with a separate bench of judges on each court.
Both courts respectively have nine judges — predominantly white males, and all of whom are currently Republican — who serve staggered six-year terms, meaning not all judges are on the ballot each election cycle.