March 18, 2014

Washington courts lose a constitutional scholar

By Brian T. Hodges Senior Attorney

Yesterday, Justice James M. Johnson of the Washington State Supreme Court announced his early retirement from the bench. This is sad news for Washington. Justice Johnson is a well-respected historian of the state constitution and a strong advocate for the principles embodied therein. During his years on the bench, he showed a marked concern for property rights, individual rights, and open government. He has also been a strong voice for restraint in government, including the Court.

In his resignation letter to Governor Jay Inslee, Justice Johnson reportedly said that he had strived to follow in the footsteps of those who framed the Washington State Constitution, protecting the rights of free speech, religious liberty, and private property. He did so. His presence on the Court will be sorely missed.

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