When the Honorable Bob McGrath unexpectedly announced his resignation, effective May 3, 2010, from the 342nd Judicial District Court, the Texas Election Code required that the Tarrant County Republican Party — through an Executive Committee comprised of a quorum of elected and ratified precinct chairs — nominate a candidate to place on the 2010 general election ballot who, if elected, would finish the unexpired term. On June 26, 2010, the TCGOP Executive Committee nominated Wade Birdwell by majority vote to be that candidate. Shortly thereafter, Governor Rick Perry appointed him to the same bench to immediately fill the vacancy left by his predecessor.
On July 28, 2010, the Honorable Terry Means, United States District Judge for the Northern District of Texas, administered the oath of office to Judge Birdwell. On September 2, 2010, Judge Means administered the oath of office once more during Judge Birdwell’s ceremonial investiture. On November 2, 2010, the voters of Tarrant County elected Judge Birdwell to fill the unexpired term for which he was originally nominated. Judge Birdwell took his most recent oath of office on January 1, 2011, in recognition of his election.
Before taking the bench, Judge Birdwell was a practicing attorney with more than 20 years of experience defending primarily members of the local medical community in both trials and appeals in state and federal courts. He acted as lead appellate counsel in approximately seventy appeals and original proceedings, participated in oral arguments before the federal Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the Supreme Court of Texas, and the state courts of appeals in Amarillo, Dallas, Eastland, El Paso and, of course, Fort Worth. He was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court on June 1, 2004. Based upon his extensive experience before state and federal appellate tribunals, Judge Birdwell became in 1998, and remains today, Board Certified in Civil Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, a certification that evidences not only an extensive knowledge of and experience with civil trial and appellate procedure, but also proven expertise in the interpretation and application of both state and federal law.
Due to his extensive appellate practice, Judge Birdwell possessed a well-documented record of originalist constitutional and strict statutory interpretation, the most notable example of which was his vigorous advocacy of religious freedom in the landmark First Amendment case, Westbrook v. Penley, wherein the Supreme Court of Texas reaffirmed the constitutional autonomy of local churches, their clergy, and their governing members to make internal decisions affecting church membership and government without subjecting themselves to legal liability in civil courts.
Judge Birdwell’s record of service in the Republican Party of Texas similarly demonstrated his strong commitment to Republican principles. In addition to his service as a precinct chair in Mansfield, he previously served as a poll watcher, an election judge, and a member of the nominations and resolutions committees for Senate District 10. As a delegate to five of the last six state conventions, he has consistently supported the platform’s call for judges who adhere to the principle of judicial restraint and who strictly interpret the law based upon the law’s original intent.
As a Fort Worth native whose father worked on the F-111 and F-16 programs at General Dynamics and whose mother taught at Birdville High, Judge Birdwell has deep personal roots in this community. Along with their children, Alexandra (14) and Nicholas (9), he and his wife, Liz, are long time residents of Mansfield and active members of Pantego Bible Church.
Judge Birdwell’s brother, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Brian Birdwell is the Texas State Senator for Senate District 22. Brian and his wife, Mel, live in Granbury, Texas. Their son, Matthew, attends Texas Tech University.
“Throughout the years, I have had the opportunity to evaluate numerous individuals for the judiciary. I have researched Wade Birdwell’s background and convinced that he will interpret the law and not legislate from the bench. He has a reserved and calm demeanor that is essential on the bench, and he has conservative, business-oriented principles. Wade Birdwell will be fair and even handed to all parties concerned and will make an excellent judge.”
James Cribbs, Arlington Former Chairman, Tarrant County GOP Judicial Evaluation Committee