The following is a compilation of the unedited responses from Steven Kirkland, candidate for Texas Supreme Court Place 2, to the 2018 Amarillo Pioneer Voter Guide. Sandill is unopposed in the March 6th Democratic primary and will face incumbent Republican Jimmy Blacklock in November.
Texas Supreme Court, Place 2
Why did you decide to run for office?
The Supreme Court is the protector of the Texas and US Constitutions which say “All courts shall be open, and every person … shall have remedy by due course of law.” And “No State shall...deny to any person...the equal protection of the laws.” The Court’s decisions must be guided by these principals, not ideology or politics.
Over the years, the Texas Supreme Court has increasingly issued opinions that can only be explained by the politics of the extremist wing of the Texas Republican Party. The Court took ideological positions to deny local authorities control of land use when issuing air pollution permits and chose private property interests over Texas' law and long tradition guaranteeing open access to Texas beaches. They interpreted statutes and added hurdles to limit access to the Courts for ordinary citizens. Then this past summer, the Court thumbed their collective noses at the US Supreme Court's decisions on marriage equality. All of these decisions were not compelled by legal analysis, but rather satisfied demands of the extreme elements of their political party.
Texans deserve better. I am running for the Supreme Court, because Texans deserve justice, not politics, from their Supreme Court.
Please list any of your political, civic or non-profit experience.
Founding Board Member & Past President of Avenue Community Development Corporation, which has constructed over 600 units of affordable housing in Houston’s inner city. Fou
Community Advisory Board, Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Houston. 2013 to present
Founders Circle, Houston Walk for Mental Health Awareness, 2010 to present
Board member, International Association of LGBT Judges, 2010 to present
Vice Chair, State Bar of Texas, LGBT Law Section - 2003 to 2004
Vice Chair, Old Sixth Ward Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone Board –2000 to 2012
Treasurer, Annise Parker Campaign, 1991 to 2001
Member - Pro Bono College of Texas - 1996 to 2001
Board Member – Stonewall Law Association of Greater Houston (fka Bar Association for Human Rights) - 1992 to 1993
Board Member - Old Sixth Ward Neighborhood Association - 1991 to 1998
Baker College Shakespearean Theater Producer - 1982
Chairman - Texas Public Interest Research Group - 1979 to 1980
What is your educational background?
BA, History - 1982 Rice University, Houston, Texas
JD, Cum Laude - 1990 University of Houston Law Center, Houston, Texas
Senior Executives in State & Local Government – 2012 Harvard, Kennedy School, Cambridge, MA
What experience do you have that qualifies you for this position?
My experience includes 13 years on the bench, 27 years of legal experience and a lifetime of service to Texas communities. As a judge, I fought to make our courts more transparent, accountable and fair. As a community leader, I fought to expand affordable housing and end discrimination. As a lawyer, I sued polluters to protect our neighborhoods. I have represented you, the taxpayer, international oil companies and individual homeowners. I have been on all sides of the courtroom and have the legal and life experiences to serve you fairly, efficiently and with compassion.
How will you best represent the Texans who elected you?
I was born and raised in Abilene, Texas. The son of a truckdriver and a bookkeeper, I learned the value of hard work from my parents. I am the first of my family to graduate college, and I worked my way through law school to graduate cum laude from the University of Houston's Law Center. Mom and Dad taught me and my brothers to be true to our word, accountable for our actions, stand up for ourselves and speak out against injustice whenever we saw it. These are Texas values that guide actions as a Judge and will guide my decisions on the Texas Supreme Court.
Are you supported by any political action committees? If so, which ones?
How are you better suited than your opponent(s) to serve in the position that you are running for?
Unlike my opponent, I have actually presided over a trial. In my thirteen years as a Judge I have presided over more than 750 jury trials of cases ranging from traffic tickets and car crashes to complex construction and financial disputes and environmental contamination. I have adjudicated the rights of neighbors over a fence and cases of citizens exercising their rights to free speech. This experience allows me to see how statutes and legal precedents are used in the real world experience of regular Texans seeking justice in their lives.
Why should voters choose you in 2018?
It is time to restore the Court to its constitutional roots as the protector of individuals and an independent voice for justice in government. Going forward, this Court will address many critical issues involving access to the Courts, the scope of government power and equal protection under the law. These are critical issues and Texans deserve Justices who will focus on their interests and return to rulings based on law, not politics. I will be that Justice.