Jefferson's term runs through 2014, but after consulting with his family, he says now is the right time to resign. Jefferson has one son in college, another in high school, and a third son in middle school.
The San Antonio native became the court's first African-American justice in 2001 when he was appointed by Gov. Perry. He was appointed chief justice in 2004, and was elected to the court in 2008 when he ran for his first full term.
Jefferson says Texas has made a lot of progress in extending equal protection of the law to minorities but there is still much to be done.
“I think when people see men and women in diverse backgrounds in positions of leadership, they become more accustomed to knowing these arbitrary difference don’t impact the quality of service, either in public life or in private life.”
In a statement Gov. Perry praised Jefferson's service, calling him an inspiration to young Texans.
“Wallace Jefferson justly and faithfully guided our state’s highest court during a decade of change and prosperity, and he will be remembered for his strong character and unwavering commitment to the rule of law. I was proud to appoint him as the court's first African-American justice and chief justice. He was and shall remain an inspiration to an entire generation of young men and women across our state. On behalf of all Texans, I thank him for his fine record of service, and wish him success and happiness in his future.” —Governor Rick Perry