Judge Brett Busby.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday appointed Brett Busby, a former justice on Houston’s Fourteenth Court of Appeals, to the Texas Supreme Court. Busby’s appointment fills the vacancy left by Justice Phil Johnson, who served on the court for 13 years before retiring in December.

Busby is a former U.S. Supreme Court clerk and former partner at then-Bracewell & Giuliani. The Republican jurist lost his seat on the appeals court to Democratic challenger Jerry Zimmerer in November when Democrats won every contested seat on four of Texas’ most influential intermediate appellate courts in Houston, Dallas and Austin.

“It is a distinct honor to appoint Brett Busby to serve on the Supreme Court of Texas,” said Gov. Abbott in a statement. “Brett’s respect for the Constitution and his understanding that judges say what the law is, not what they would like it to be, will serve the people of Texas well as he ascends to our highest court. I am grateful to Brett for his dedication to the Lone Star State and his unwavering commitment to the rule of law.”

Busby’s term, conditional on Senate confirmation, would expire Dec. 31, 2020, when he would face re-election.