Jessica M. Karmasek Sep. 9, 2013, 3:30pm

AUSTIN, Texas (Legal Newsline) -- Four former Texas Supreme Court justices last week endorsed state Rep. Dan Branch for attorney general.

Former Chief Justice Thomas R. Phillips and former justices Craig T. Enoch, Harriet O'Neill and Alberto Gonzales came out in support of Branch, a Republican, Thursday.

"As a leading legislator and an accomplished member of the bar, Dan has demonstrated that he has the intelligence, integrity and energy to be a great attorney general," Phillips said.

"He will diligently and effectively prosecute wrong-doers, protect honest citizens and defend our state's interests as our state's highest lawyer."

Phillips served on the state's high court from 1988 to 2004.

Enoch, who served on the court from 1993 to 2003, called Branch "a great Texas legislator," who has "delivered results for Texans."

"He will continue to do so as attorney general," he said. "Dan will carry the torch of conservative values necessary to fight this out-of-control federal government.

"Attorney General (Greg) Abbott has been a fighter for Texas. As our next attorney general, Dan Branch will continue to take that fight to Washington."

O'Neill, who served on the high court from 1999 to 2010, agreed with Enoch, saying in a statement that Branch is a "proven conservative" who is "committed to the rule of law."

Gonzales, who served on the court from 1999 to 2000, also served as White House Counsel under former President George W. Bush and as the 80th Attorney General of the United States. He also served as the Texas Secretary of State from 1997 to 1999.

"The endorsements from jurists like Chief Justice Phillips and Justices Gonzales, Enoch and O'Neill demonstrate the strong support we have from leading conservatives across Texas," Branch said in a statement Thursday.

"For years, these justices have worked tirelessly to end judicial activism and defend the rule of law. I am honored by their support and will continue fighting for the rights of Texans as the next attorney general."

Along with Branch, state Sen. Ken Paxton and Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman are running for the GOP nomination.

Abbott is running for governor, following Gov. Rick Perry's announcement that he would not seek another term in office.

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