‘Sharia Law’ Becomes an Issue in the Texas Supreme Court Election

In a recent post, I briefly described the election contest now underway for the Texas Supreme Court seat currently held by incumbent Justice Debra Lehrmann, who is being challenged in the Republican primary by First Court of Appeals Justice Michael Massengale, who has collected a number of impressive endorsements, most recently from the influential Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. Election campaigns can be heated affairs, with misleading ads, unfounded accusations, and unsavory innuendos — especially when a candidate gets desperate. Even though the candidates wear black robes while on the job, judicial elections are no different. In the Lehrmann-Massengale race, one of Justice Lehrmann’s prominent supporters has charged that Justice Massengale “allowed,” “upheld,” or “permitted” Sharia law in a case he decided while on the Court of Appeals, Ashfaq v. Ashfaq. In Texas, and especially in a Republican primary, the claim that a judge is “soft” on Sharia law is a serious matter. Massengale, a devout Catholic and former president of the Houston Lawyers’ Chapter of the Federalist Society, running as a judicial conservative, is unlikely to be a closet adherent to Islamic religious precepts, but the Lehrmann camp is presumably hoping to hoodwink primary voters with inflammatory (albeit unfounded) rhetoric. After all, in 1964 LBJ famously suggested in the so-called “Daisy Girl” ad that, if elected, Barry Goldwater would start a nuclear war. That demagogic ad, which aired only once, is widely credited as an important factor in LBJ’s landslide victory over Goldwater. And, ever since, political candidates (and their unscrupulous consultants) have been inspired to resort to such negative ads to win elections. But what of the charge? Did Massengale apply Sharia law in a case? The answer is an emphatic “No.”

Read more at National Review

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